Facebook co-founder says platform should reckon with bad actors

Facebook co-founder and basic-income evangelist Chris Hughes says Facebook has an increasing responsibility to grapple with the influence it wields over relationships, society and even politics. He spoke Wednesday to CBSN's Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" about increasing abuse of the platform. 

"People often ask me … could you have imagined that Facebook could be used for good or for ill?" he said. "In the early days it was a very hard thing to imagine, but in the last few years, as Facebook has gotten more and more prominent, there's more and more of a responsibility that comes with that."

Hughes said he believed the people who are running the company "seem to be turning a corner understanding" how the platform can be abused. He said he hoped they would be making some changes.

Hughes said that in the earliest days, there was a sense at Facebook of trying to keep up with the progress that was happening "almost organically." But, after a few years, Hughes noted, Facebook has become more of the culture and a place where the conversation was taking place.   

Hughes noted that Facebook isn't "just a place to go for fun" but also has become the "public square for 2018" where debates are happening.

"It's taken some time for users to understand that, it's taken some time for the leadership of the company to understand that and I think we are entering a new moment where the response is more in line with the status of Facebook as a company," Hughes said.

Facebook, in addition to Twitter and smaller social-media networks, has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in influencing the 2016 election -- an idea that Mark Zuckerberg, the company's CEO, initially brushed off. The company is now making amends, including sending postcards to people who may have seen Russian-backed advertising and increasing the number of staffers working on security.

The platform has also been criticized for the more subtle ways in which it restricts opportunity. Facebook's targeted ads can be used to, for example, exclude people of a particular ethnic affinity from seeing housing ads, which is illegal under federal law. 

Facebook executive Rob Goldman tweeted last week "I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say definitively that swaying the election was not the main goal," which President Trump retweeted and cited it as vindication. Hughes said he "puts my stock" in Mueller's indictment, which had a very clear case in enabling Russian actors to  interfere in the election. 

"I think it's clear Facebook was used in the 2016 election for malicious purposes," Hughes said. 

Hughes also said some of these Russian actors were "quite literally trying to hack the ballot box" in dozens of states, and as much as Facebook has certain responsiblities, the federal government does as well for elections. 

Hughes is promoting his new book, "Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn," which came out Tuesday. As a freshman at Harvard, Hughes roomed with Mark Zuckerberg and went on to co-found Facebook, now one of the world's most valuable companies. 

Hughes, who was part of President Obama's 2008 team, is proposing a plan for "guaranteed income for working people." 

"The idea is that every working person in the United States should have basic financial stability," Hughes said. "It's so obvious that if you work, you shouldn't live in poverty."

In his book, Hughes is proposing a guaranteed of $500 for every American who makes less than $50,000 a month. Hughes says he makes it clear that he is "park of the 1 percent" and made nearly $500 million for three years, and he says now that he realizes that this is not that uncommon. If tax rates go back into line with historical averages for income above, Hughes says this will pay for the plan. 

Hughes said the leaders of "big tech" have a "responsibility to speak out" about income inequality. He said the recent tax cut "makes no sense."