Mayor Pete Buttigieg endorsed the idea on Friday of more regulations on tech companies like Facebook, despite his friendly relationship with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Buttigieg endorsed a New York Times op-ed written by former Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who criticized Zuckerberg’s power and called for Facebook’s “monopoly” on online social media and communication to be broken up and regulated.
“I thought he made a very convincing case about how no one person should have that kind of power – not just one company – but a lot of these tech companies have,” Buttigieg replied when reporters asked him about the Hughes op-ed in San Francisco.
He argued that tech companies affected public policy, suggesting that more government oversight was needed.
“The reality is you’ve got companies making corporate policy decisions that in effect are public policy decisions, but they’re doing it without the mechanisms or the accountability of public policy in a democracy,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’ve got to recognize this.”
Buttigieg argued that modern Internet needed more regulation, as large tech companies were abusing Internet freedom.
“The internet is such a different place than it was in the ’90s when regulators basically left it alone because they weren’t sure what to do with it,” he said.
He hinted that companies like Facebook had turned into corporate giants without adjusting their business ethics.
“I think a lot of people here in the tech sector still have a David mentality when they’ve increasingly turned into Goliath,” he said.
Buttigieg’s comments demonstrate his willingness to distance himself from Zuckerberg, despite an early friendship.
Zuckerberg met with Buttigieg in 2017, as the two Harvard alums hosted a Facebook Live together during Zuckerberg’s tour of the Midwest:
In January, Buttigieg was more defensive of Zuckerberg in an interview on National Public Radio but acknowledged that a “conversation” about tech standards should take place.
“I think he’s taking those responsibilities seriously,” Buttigieg said, referring to Zuckerberg, describing him as “somebody who cares about what his product is doing for and to the country and the world.”