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8 | EXPRESS | 05.10.2019 | WEEKEND


‘It’s time to break up Facebook’

Trump demands end to ‘surprise medical bills’

Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Chris Hughes helped create Facebook while attending Harvard in 2004.

communications, said in a statement. “Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet.” Hughes’ op-ed painted a stark portrait of Facebook’s dominance: The company is worth a halftrillion dollars and its products are regularly used by billions of people. By Hughes’ estimates, Facebook commands “more than 80 percent of the world’s social networking revenue.” Hughes and Zuckerberg cofounded Facebook with Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz in 2004 while they were enrolled at Harvard University. All are now billionaires save Hughes, whose fortune has been estimated at $430 million. Another major social networking platform hasn’t been founded since 2011, and despite movements like #deleteFacebook,


TECHNOLOGY Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is calling for the breakup of the social media juggernaut, citing the threat of the platform’s unchecked power and that of its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg. In an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times, Hughes joined the growing chorus of lawmakers and advocates demanding that the U.S. government rein in Facebook. Although Facebook has had myriad scandals, including Russian propagandists exploiting the platform to spread misinformation and sway U.S. elections, its reach continues to grow. “For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure Americans are protected and markets are competitive,” Hughes wrote. “It is time to break up Facebook.” Facebook rejected this argument in a statement Thursday, suggesting regulation of the internet — as Zuckerberg called for in a March op-ed published in The Washington Post — was the only thing that would bring real accountability. “Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability. But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and


Co-founder urges the U.S. government to rein in company’s unchecked powers

Content of extremists slips through the cracks A whistleblower’s complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained by The Associated Press alleges Facebook has exaggerated its success in removing extremist content. Even worse, it shows that the company is inadvertently using propaganda by militants and hate groups to auto-generate videos and pages that could be used for networking. According to the complaint, over a five-month period last year, researchers monitored pages by users who affiliated themselves with groups the U.S. State Department has designated as terrorist organizations. In that period, 38% of the posts with prominent symbols of extremist groups were removed. In its own review, the AP found that as of this month, much of the banned content cited in the study — an execution video, images of severed heads, propaganda honoring martyred militants — slipped through the algorithmic web and remained easy to find on Facebook. The company concedes that its systems are not perfect, but says they are improving. (AP)

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it’s almost impossible to avoid, with many people eschewing the core platform in favor of Instagram or WhatsApp, not realizing they are Facebook subsidiaries. The apparent avalanche of disasters hasn’t dented Facebook’s finances; its earnings per share increased 40 percent last year, despite a torrent of public failures. No aspect of Facebook is more troubling than Zuckerberg’s total authority, Hughes wrote, calling it “unprecedented and un-American.” Zuckerberg controls 60 percent of the company’s voting shares and has ultimate oversight over Facebook’s algorithms, privacy settings and community guidelines. He has the money and power to copy, buy or squash his competitors. Hughes wants the government to correct the Federal Trade Commission’s “biggest mistake” by forcing Instagram and WhatsApp to split from Facebook and become competitors again. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have also made a case for federal intervention. This week, two senators wrote the FTC to urge it to go beyond its expected $5 billion fine against Facebook for its privacy practices. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, DConn., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote: “The public is rightly asking whether Facebook is too big to be held accountable.”

HEALTH President Trump on Thursday called for an end to “surprise medical bills,” the astonishingly high charges insured patients can face when a member of a medical team that treats them is not in their insurer’s network. “Not a pleasant surprise,” Trump said of bills that arrive in the mail and run to tens of thousands of dollars. “A very unpleasant surprise.” The administration threw its support behind efforts by lawmakers of both parties to address the problem, laying out a set of goals for legislation: Patients who receive emergency care should not be hit with charges that exceed the amount paid to in-network providers. In an emergency, patients are in no position to check whether their insurers have contracted with the surgeons or anesthesiologists who provide care. Patients going in for a scheduled procedure should get upfront information about whether their clinicians are in their insurer’s network and what costs they will face. Patients should not get out-of-network bills from a provider they did not pick. Fixes should not add to federal health care costs. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he hoped to deliver a bill in July. KEVIN FREKING



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