CREDO Action

We can't trust Facebook to control global currency

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"Block Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, Libra."

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    We can't trust Facebook to control global currency

    Facebook just paid a record-breaking $5 billion fine for violating people's privacy – the result of an investigation that showed Facebook allowed the right-wing firm Cambridge Analytica access to 50 million social media profiles that helped them sway the election to Trump.1

    But Facebook is already dreaming of an even scarier idea: setting up its own global currency. Facebook proposed creating an online "cryptocurrency," like the more-famous Bitcoin, called Libra. Libra would be an easy tool for tax evasion and money laundering in the hands of out-of-control corporations.2

    Last week, Democrats slammed Libra during congressional hearings with Facebook's cryptocurrency chief, and Rep. Maxine Waters is threatening to subpoena Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.3 Progressive champions are calling for a moratorium on Facebook's development of its own money, and we need to help them build support in Congress.

    Tell Congress: We can't trust Facebook. Stop the Libra project.

    Facebook routinely violates consumer privacy. It swallowed up competitors and built a near-inescapable monopoly. It lied to advertisers about video metrics, lied to Congress in testimony and lied about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook created a safe haven for white nationalism, right-wing hatred, racism, misogyny, ethnic supremacism and fake news that fosters violence worldwide. And now, in the words of Sen. Sherrod Brown, it wants to create its "own bank and [its] own for-profit version of the Federal Reserve for the world."4,5

    Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or the proposed Libra are digital currencies that use cryptography to protect the value of each coin or token. Facebook's Libra is a horrible idea that would:6

    • Centralize corporate control by giving Facebook more power, undermining sovereign states that create their own currency and give the unelected board of a non-profit in Switzerland controlled by corporate interests the ability to distort global currencies or undermine governments at will.
    • Promote tax dodging and money laundering by making it easier for people to hide their money in a new network with instant global reach.
    • Erode freedom with no clear limits on how Facebook could use data on Libra purchases, bake racist discrimination into its algorithms, change the rules in the future or demand employees take payment in currency it controls.

    Facebook's answer is to all these complaints is essentially, "trust us." But the company's horrendous track record shows it is undeserving of any trust. In fact, Facebook already showed it is unable to deal with an outpouring of scam artists selling fake Libra tokens on its own platform.7 Congress cannot let Facebook expand its empire.

    Tell Congress: We can't trust Facebook. Stop the Libra project.

    As progressive champion Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it, Facebook is already too big:

    Facebook, which is a publishing platform, an advertising network, a personal telecommunications network, a surveillance corporation, a content distributor, now also wants to establish a currency and act through its wallet as, at minimum, a payment processor. Why should these activities be consolidated under one corporation?8

    If Congress wants to help people without access to traditional banking, it can create a postal banking system. Allowing more unchecked corporate greed from a corrupt company like Facebook is unacceptable.

    Tell Congress: We can't trust Facebook. Stop the Libra project.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Tony Romm, "Facebook will have to pay a record-breaking fine for violating users’ privacy. But the FTC wanted more." The Washington Post, July 22, 2019.
    2. Public Citizen et. al., "Open Letter Calling for Libra Moratorium," July 2, 2019.
    3. Renae Merle, "‘Arrogance,’ ‘a ploy,’ ‘bold’: Here’s what officials are saying about Facebook’s Libra," The Washington Post, July 19, 2019.
    4. Romm, "Facebook will have to pay a record-breaking fine for violating users’ privacy. But the FTC wanted more."
    5. Merle, "‘Arrogance,’ ‘a ploy,’ ‘bold’: Here’s what officials are saying about Facebook’s Libra."
    6. Public Citizen et. al., "Open Letter Calling for Libra Moratorium."
    7. Drew Harwell, Tony Romm and Cat Zakrzewski, "Facebook’s Libra currency spawns a wave of fakes, including on Facebook itself," The Washington Post, July 22, 2019.
    8. Merle, "‘Arrogance,’ ‘a ploy,’ ‘bold’: Here’s what officials are saying about Facebook’s Libra."

    Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images