Embattled Facebook slams antitrust breakup, says it would 'penalize success'

Facebook is pushing back hard against calls to break up the embattled tech giant and unwind its purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram.

"Chopping a great American success story into bits" won't stop foreign election interference or "poison" spreading online, Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communications, told CNN Business in a Sunday interview.

The tech giant, which accounts for 85 percent of the revenue in the social networking space and has billions of users across its family apps, has been in the crosshairs of Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as co-founder Chris Hughes — who penned a scathing 6,000-word New York Times op-ed on Sunday calling for Facebook's breakup on antitrust grounds.

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Clegg, a former U.K. deputy prime minister who joined Facebook last year, elaborated on why a breakup of America's largest and most profitable social network isn't the best course of action.

"We need to do more," he said in the interview, but he added that they "won't suddenly evaporate. There will still be Russian trolls."

In his op-ed, Hughes lambasted what he called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "unchecked power" and influence "far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government."

During a recent interview with "CBS This Morning," Hughes framed the debate in the context of American antitrust enforcement and said that consumers have few choices if they want to leave Facebook.

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"We have a long tradition in America of holding power accountable," Hughes said. "What keeps happening now is there's another privacy scandal or another election scandal seemingly every week. And then people get outraged, and then they become resigned to the fact that they can't do anything. We can't vote with our feet, we can't vote with our eyeballs."

Facebook has often pointed to Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr as competition, however, all of those platforms have audiences a fraction the size of the Menlo Park, Calif. company that Zuckerberg founded along with Hughes.

Clegg also fired back in his own Times op-ed this weekend, writing: "Big in itself isn't bad. Success should not be penalized."

The tech giant's head of communications said the company is significantly more prepared for the 2020 U.S. elections than it was in 2016.