Author: Steve Lohr
Chris Hughes used to huddle with Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room building Facebook from scratch. Now, he’s huddling with regulators to explain why Facebook needs to be broken up.
In recent weeks, Mr. Hughes has joined two leading antitrust academics, Scott Hemphill of New York University and Tim Wu of Columbia University, in meetings with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and state attorneys general. In those meetings, the three have laid out a potential antitrust case against Facebook, Mr. Wu and Mr. Hemphill said.
For nearly a decade, they argue, Facebook has made “serial defensive acquisitions” to protect its dominant position in the market for social networks, according to slides they have shown government officials. Scooping up nascent rivals, they assert, can allow Facebook to charge advertisers higher prices and can give users worse experience.
Mr. Hughes’s involvement stands out because few founders have gone on to argue for the dismantling of their company. As the scrutiny of the world’s biggest tech companies has intensified in the last year, many of the complaints about them have come from competitors or academics.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that the F.T.C. had started an antitrust investigation into the company. The Justice Department has also started a broad antitrust review of the technology industry, as have lawmakers. And on Thursday, some state attorneys general met with the Justice Department to discuss competition in the industry.
It is unclear just what role Mr. Hughes, who left Facebook more than a decade ago and has become increasingly critical of Facebook in public, is playing in the pitches to regulators. In the slide presentation, a “Who We Are” page lists Mr. Hughes as the third member of the group. The page concludes with the bullet point, “Speaking only for ourselves, not a client.”
Read More: Here