Washington, October 23
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is again appearing before Congress to face questions about his company’s massive market power, privacy lapses and tolerance of speech deemed false or hateful.
Zuckerberg has been summoned to testify at a hearing on Wednesday by the House Financial Services Committee on Facebook’s plan to create a global digital currency, which has stirred opposition from lawmakers and regulators in the US and Europe. But the full range of policies and conduct of the social media giant with nearly 2.5 billion users will be under the public glare.
It’s the Facebook chief’s first testimony to Congress since April 2018.
The company seems to spark public and official anger at every turn these days, from its shift into messaging services that allow encrypted conversations to its alleged anticompetitive behaviour to its refusal to take down phony political ads or doctored videos.
Lawmakers from both parties and top regulators—including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell—have criticised Facebook’s plan for the new currency, to be called Libra. They warn that it could be used for illicit activity such as money laundering or drug trafficking.
Rep Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who heads the Financial Services panel, this summer asked Facebook not to move forward with the currency and a digital wallet called Calibra that would be used with it. Waters has called Libra “a new Swiss-based financial system” that potentially is too big to fail and could require a taxpayer bailout.
Several high-profile companies that had signed on as partners in Facebook’s governing association for Libra have recently bailed, spelling a potentially rough road for the project. But many experts don’t believe it’s doomed.
Zuckerberg, in written testimony prepared for the hearing, aimed to reassure lawmakers that his company wouldn’t try to evade financial regulators as it readies Libra. AP
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