- Senator Sherrod Brown did not mince words in his opening remarks during a Senate committee hearing addressing concerns over Facebook’sLibracryptocurrency.
- Brown reflected on Facebook’s numerous scandals over the years and the company’s responses to those scandals and crises, comparing the social networking “a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches,” and adding that Facebook has “burned down the house and called every arson a learning experience.”
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Senator Sherrod Brown came out guns blazing against Facebook on Tuesday in his opening remarks during the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs’ hearing over Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency.
“Facebook is dangerous,” Brown said, addressing Facebook executive David Marcus, head of Calibra, who testified before the Senate committee.
Brown then compared Facebook to “a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches,” adding that Facebook has “burned down the house and called every arson a learning experience.”
“They moved fast and broke our political discourse, they moved fast and broke journalism, they moved fast and helped incite a genocide, and they moved fast and they’re helping to undermine our democracy,” Brown said. “Now Facebook asked people to trust them with their hard-earned paychecks. It takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance to look at that track record and think, you know what we really ought to do next? Let’s run our own bank and our own for-profit version of the Federal Reserve, and let’s do it for the whole world.”
Facebook declined to comment on Brown’s remarks.
Facebook has faced numerous security and privacy scandals in the last few years, including its handling of Russian intervention during the 2016 US presidential election, its role in inciting genocide in Myanmar, promoting and spreading misinformation, and the user data exposed to unauthorised parties in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In January 2018, facing criticism over Russian intervention on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg said “This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I’m looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together.” Over the following year after Zuckerberg’s statement, Facebook was embroiled in numerous additional scandals and crises, and is about to be hit with a $US5 billion penalty from the FTC over its data practices.
One question that kept coming up throughout the hearing: Why anyone should trust Facebook with their financial information, given its rocky track record with protecting user data and privacy.
“Libra is about developing a safe, secure, and low-cost way for people to move money efficiently around the world,” Facebook’s David Marcus said in his opening remarks. “We believe that Libra can make real progress toward building a more inclusive financial infrastructure. The journey to get there will be a long one, and we recognise that ours has just begun.” You can read the rest of Marcus’ opening testimony here.
Marcus also said multiple times during the hearing that Facebook was not interested in competing with banks and bank accounts.
Watch the livestream of the House Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs’ hearing with Facebook here.
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