A progressive coalition of anti-monopoly groups seeking to break up Facebook just added the top U.S. communications union to its campaign.
Communications Workers of America (CWA) joined the Freedom From Facebook campaign calling on the Federal Trade Commission to split Facebook into smaller social media companies, Bloomberg reports. The campaign argues the FTC should take steps to break up Facebook and institute stronger privacy protections and facilitate cross-platform communication.
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"We should all be deeply concerned by Facebook’s power over our lives and democracy," said Communications Workers of America researcher Brian Thorn. He also said Facebook’s "monopoly" should end or else it "would be unfair to the American people, our privacy, and our democracy."
The Freedom From Facebook campaign is composed of groups that include Open Markets Institute, Citizens Against Monopoly, MoveOn Civic Action, and SumofUs, which have ties to liberal billionaire George Soros. The Open Markets Institute funders include the Open Society Foundations, Soros’ philanthropic group to which he has donated billions of dollars.
Open Markets itself set up Citizens Against Monopoly after tech giant Google was accused of using its influence over the left-leaning New America Foundation to oust Barry Lynn as director of Open Markets, a program within the think tank that criticized the tech giant. Lynn said the group doesn’t receive any money from for-profit companies and confirmed the group receives money from Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
MoveOn has also received millions from Soros, while SumOfUs partners with the Open Society Foundations as well as the Tides Foundation. The Tides Foundation itself has received money from Soros' Open Society Foundations.
In addition, Soros made his views on Facebook and Google clear in an op-ed earlier this year.
"The rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the U.S. government’s impotence," Soros wrote. "These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown ever more powerful, they have become obstacles to innovation, and have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware."
Soros divested from Facebook at the end of last year.
The social media company disclosed last week that it's cooperating with the FBI's investigation into Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that obtained tens of millions of Facebook users' information without consent.
Beth Allen, CWA’s communications director, noted the public pressure around the issue of potential monopolies in tech and said regulators "are struggling to keep up" with Facebook.
Freedom From Facebook’s director Sarah Miller touted CWA’s decision to join as a sign of momentum for anti-monopoly activists.
"It’s a really important signal that we’re having more and more groups become interested in this set of solutions," Miller said.