Rep. Maxine Waters Urges Facebook To Drop Libra Until It Fixes Other Issues

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Written by Ann Brown
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Congresswoman Maxine Waters wants Facebook to make some changes before the tech giant moves ahead with its cryptocurrency project. Maxine Waters (D-Calif), House Financial Services Committee Chair, leads a hearing to review the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mission,March 7, 2019 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters wants Facebook to make some changes and to make them sooner than later. And she’s urging that before the tech giant moves ahead with its cryptocurrency project, it should fix more pressing issues. 

During a recent hearing featuring Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, Waters spoke of “Facebook’s misappropriation of users’ personal data, its role in allowing Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election and the spread of polarizing political ads on its platform that have pitted Americans against each other,” Bloomberg reported.

“You have opened up a serious discussion about whether Facebook should be broken up,” Waters told Zuckerberg.

Waters isn’t the only one concerned about the company’s digital-currency, known as Libra. Facebook has faced resistance in Washington not only because of concerns that Libra will undermine consumers’ financial privacy but also because the digital-currency could be used by criminals for illicit transactions, such as money laundering.

But Facebook insists that Libra isn’t going to “be a thing that spreads like a social network.” 

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“This is not going to be a thing that spreads like a social network,” Kevin Weil, vice president of product at Facebook’s Calibra digital wallet unit, said recently at the Web Summit technology conference. “This is going to be the work not of years but of decades, and it’s worth making.”

The Libra Association is a Switzerland-based consortium that is overseeing the project. The project ran into trouble almost immediately. Besides dealing with government worries about Libra, the project also lost many of its key initial backers including Mastercard and Visa.

“Libra’s value would be tied to a basket of government currencies and debt to maintain a stable value, similar to the many so-called “stablecoins” that look to avoid the volatility seen in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Facebook says its primary use case would be for remittances, where people send money across borders,” CNBC reported.

“There are going to be people who are not comfortable using a financial product built by Facebook,” Weil said, adding that it’s “OK” if they feel that way. “You don’t have to use a Facebook product ever to get the greater value of the accessibility and lower cost brought by the libra ecosystem.”

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: Congresswoman Maxine Waters wants Facebook to make some changes before the tech giant moves ahead with its cryptocurrency project. Maxine Waters (D-Calif), House Financial Services Committee Chair, leads a hearing to review the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's mission,March 7, 2019 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite), Congresswoman Maxine Waters wants Facebook to make some changes before the tech giant moves ahead with its cryptocurrency project. Maxine Waters (D-Calif), House Financial Services Committee Chair, leads a hearing to review the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's mission,March 7, 2019 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)