Mark Zuckerberg went through the ringer today, even being compared to Donald Trump at one point.
Both democrats and republicans took aim at Facebook and its Libra project today. In yet another round of Congressional inquiry, representatives once against questioned every aspect of the Facebook Libra business model.
Some Republicans reportedly questioned why the Libra Association is headquartered in Switzerland.
Democrats showed concern for what they view as an obviously disingenuous approach taken by Facebook. Folks like Rep. Brad Sherman weren’t buying the notion that Facebook aims to help the so-called “unbanked” of the world.
Facebook Fails to Wow Congress
Sherman also argued that Facebook’s repeated privacy scandals, combined with its other problems as a business, give it a weak position to become the architect of a financial system like Libra envisions.
Interestingly, politicians are concerned that a platform built by Facebook will enable anonymity.
Facebook’s whole business model is built around collecting user data, so it seems unlikely that a financial product would do anything less.
Libra‘s lack of potential for anonymity should be the concern — pooling so much financial and personal information in a single place could in fact be a boon to hackers rather than terrorists.
Today’s hearings weren’t only about Libra, though. Facebook’s in trouble for other things at present, not the least of which are ongoing concerns about the social media giant’s role in US elections.
AOC Grills Zuckerberg
Left-leaning democrat Alexandria Occasio-Cortez spent her time grilling Zuckerberg about his firm’s willingness to censor political speech, regardless of who that would be in favor of.
The freshman congresswoman cleverly used an example where a Democrat might lie about a Republican in a political advertisement. She wondered whether that would be acceptable.
Facebook is also in hot water over a research report that concluded the company’s algorithms essentially enabled landlords to screen tenants based on race.
Federal regulations prohibit rental requirements encompassing a person’s race or religious preferences, but technology like Facebook can clearly provide a means around such regulations.
Researchers tested a theory that Facebook’s ad system would display to people based on what amounted to their racial identity, through a combination of other factors.
Now, with increased federal attention on Facebook due to its Libra project, some regulators have pointed to Facebook’s track record of allowing discrimination.