Facebook is finally facing its reckoning as David Marcus, head of the company’s blockchain division and the leader of Libra, the venture’s new cryptocurrency, was grilled by Senate members who refuse to believe in Facebook’s allegedly noble financial plans.
Libra: A Congressional Issue?
Many people have a hard time believing in Facebook’s morality following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Discovered in 2018, Facebook had allegedly been selling users’ private data for years to third parties for advertising purposes. Following Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate hearing last year, trust in Facebook has fallen to an all-time low.
In many ways, this new “congressional step” for the social media conglomerate should serve as a huge learning experience. When you’re a company of Facebook’s size and you do anything to compromise the safety or privacy of your customers, you can bet it’s going to take a long time to earn their trust back. Facebook is learning this lesson in spades right now, as several Senators taking part in the hearing commented about the lack of trust they feel towards the company and its executive team.
Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from the state of Ohio, commented:
Facebook has demonstrated through scandal after scandal that it doesn’t deserve our trust. We’d be crazy to give them a chance to let them experiment with people’s bank accounts.
Senator Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, stated that Facebook is simply trying to shift gears and get people to focus on something else entirely, in this case cryptocurrency. Rather than seriously attempt to fix its reputation, it’s working to divert people’s attention with an entirely new product. She says:
I don’t trust you guys. Instead of cleaning up your house, you are launching into a new business model.
In addition, Facebook is also being criticized for its complete lack of coordination with policymakers. Throughout the early development of Libra, Facebook’s executive team failed to make any contacts with regulators or legal authorities to potentially understand how the cryptocurrency could better satisfy present financial laws and terms.
Trust Takes a Long Time to Build
At least David Marcus isn’t lying to himself. He acknowledged during the hearing that it would likely take a while before the company can earn people’s trust well enough that they would provide their banking details. He states:
I want to make it clear that we are only at the beginning of the journey. We expect the review of Libra to be one of the most extensive ever. Facebook will not offer the Libra currency until we have addressed the concerns and receive appropriate approvals… We will not control Libra and will be one of over 100 participants that will govern over the currency. We will have to gain people’s trust if we want people to use our network over the hundreds of competing companies.