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Consumer group calls for Facebook to ‘break up its monopoly’

Amid widespread scandals and ineffective leadership under Mark Zuckerberg, SumOfUs has called for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR to operate as independent companies, as it believes the company has now grown too large to be policed effectively. 

SumOfUs, an international consumer group, will join with progressive Jewish activist group Bend The Arc to present its shareholder resolution calling for the break up of Facebook’s monopoly on behalf of its members who are Facebook shareholders.

Since 2007, Facebook has acquired its competitors Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR. And as the company has grown, so have its scandals.

From data breaches to the disruption of democracy in the United States, live-steaming the Christchurch shooting and rampant hate speech targeting people of colour and other marginalised groups, Facebook has grown too large to be managed effectively.

Calls to break up Facebook have gotten widespread support, most surprisingly from the company’s own co-founder, Chris Hughes.

In his scathing New York Times op-ed, Hughes cites, “Mark [Zuckerberg]’s power is unprecedented and un-American. It is time to break up Facebook.”

SumOfUs argues that its proposal is vital to stopping the rampant spread of disinformation that undermines democracies and is a necessary step to protecting marginalised groups.

“Facebook is out of control. From Russian bots to the Christchurch massacre to a doctored video of our Speaker of the House – the failure of Zuckerberg to manage his company is threatening our democracy and the personal safety of communities that have suffered enough. Zuckerberg didn’t set out to cause these social problems, but he’s not doing nearly enough to solve them,” saidAllison Guy, campaigner at SumofUs.

“No company should hold as much power over society – with so little oversight – as Facebook. Zuckerberg could fix this, but instead, he calls on governments to reign him in. Once the golden boy of tech, Zuckerberg is rapidly becoming seen as a Robber Baron. Chronic mismanagement is having a real financial impact on the company.”

SumOfUs is joined by Arielle Cohen, a 30-year-old national organiser with Bend the Arc, from Pittsburgh who is closely connected to the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 people were murdered in an anti-semitic mass shooting in October 2018.

Cohen will make the case directly to shareholders of Facebook as well as Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and other members of the Board about the Jewish community’s trauma and the vital need to break up Facebook and appoint an independent chair to implement more oversight of growing, violent anti-Semitic content on the platform.

“The gunman who shot eleven people in my city was not a lone wolf. He came as a part of a growing white nationalist movement which is fostered online and off.

“Since that day I’ve become acutely aware of how social media is enabling the organisation of hate crimes by white nationalist zealots to target my friends, neighbours and allies. When Mark Zuckerberg announced he was banning white supremacy from Facebook it was already too late, but as of last week there’s still 500 supremacist accounts on Facebook who continue to target my beloved community,”said Arielle Cohen.

“I’m here because I believe Facebook has too much power and is out of control. Zuckerberg continues to profit from aiding and abetting online communities which foster hate and violence.

“I am asking shareholders to make Facebook more manageable, and Facebook’s management more accountable for their own benefit and for our community and all vulnerable people.”

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