Facebook in focus among 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls

Democratic 2020 presidential candidates are increasingly calling for Facebook to face tighter federal regulations, adding yet another headache for the social media giant after a co-founder suggested the social media giant be broken up.

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Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have all called for more intense government oversight of the company, with Warren going a step further and advocating for breaking up Facebook, which includes the signature platform along with Instagram and WhatsApp.

"I think Facebook has experienced massive growth and has prioritized its growth over the best interest of its consumers, especially on the issue of privacy," Harris told CNN on Sunday. "There is no question in my mind that there needs to be serious regulation. That has not been happening. There needs to be more oversight. That has not been happening."

A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to request for comment.

It’s the latest escalation in a seemingly endless cascade of negative publicity for the company since it was unveiled that a British consulting firm with ties to President Trump’s campaign improperly accessed information from nearly 87 million Facebook users. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to fine the Menlo Park, California-based company as much as $5 billion for privacy violations.

Since then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and top lieutenants like COO Sheryl Sandberg have appeared in front of congressional committees. Several attorney generals are also pursuing cases against Facebook for, among other things, the unauthorized collection of 1.5 million users’ email address books.

Warren previously said Facebook, Google and Amazon, which she still uses, need to be broken up because “they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation.”

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“To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies,” she said in a March statement.

Warren’s comments represent the extreme end of the party’s view on the matter. When asked by ABC about her calls to break the firm up, Booker said he didn’t think “a president should be running around, pointing at companies and saying break them up without any kind of process here.”


Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, however, echoed Warren’s sentiment in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, writing that “Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.”

“It is time to break up Facebook," he wrote. "The government must hold Mark accountable. For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure that Americans are protected and markets are competitive."