Kamala Harris Joins Calls To Dismantle Facebook, Calls Zuckerberg’s Empire A ‘Public Utility’

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris said Sunday morning that she will “seriously take a look at” breaking up Facebook as she joins efforts to paint the Silicon Valley giant as a monopoly.

“Facebook has experienced massive growth and has prioritized its growth over the best interest of its consumers especially on the issue of privacy. There is no question in my mind that there needs to be serious regulation, and that has not been happening,” Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Her interview with Tapper took place in San Francisco, California, a short distance from Facebook’s headquarters.

“Yes, I think we have to seriously take a look at that, yes,” she added in response to Tapper’s question about whether the social media giant should be broken up. Harris’ position appears to dovetail with those of Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who announced plans in Mach to divide up Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Warren’s proposal would impose new rules on tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual ad revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to dramatically reduce their hold on online commerce. The plan would also aim to curtail mergers between companies like Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. (RELATED: Facebook’s Co-Founder Calls For Government To Break Up Zuckerberg’s Empire)

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“They’re essentially a utility,” Harris said of Facebook. “Very few people can get by and be involved in their communities or society or in whatever their profession without somehow, somewhere using Facebook. It’s very difficult for people to be engaged any level of commerce without it. We have to recognize it for what it is. It is essentially a utility that has gone unregulated. As far as I’m concerned, that’s got to stop.”

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reacts as he speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Harris’ decision to target a company with a tight connection to California could backfire for the presidential candidate, especially as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is working on campaigning in Silicon Valley for money heading into the 2020 presidential election. Buttigieg, who is also running for president, traveled to California on May 10 to tap major Facebook executives for cash.

Republicans are also considering ways to clobber Facebook. One of the best ways to ding the company is to make it responsible for the content users post, according to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He suggested amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act while grilling CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2018. Section 230 protects major social media operators from being held responsible for what users post.

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