Even as Facebook’s proposal to launch its own cryptocurrency (Libra) is mired in controversy, United States Congressman Warren Davidson has suggested that instead of creating its own cryptocurrency, Facebook should add Bitcoin to its Calibra wallet.
The US Congressman, in an interview with the Noded Bitcoin podcast on October 11, said that “part of the beauty” of Facebook unveiling Libra is that it has crystallized all of the problems that already exist on the social media platform today.
In the interview, Davidson argued that the Congressional hearings devoted to Libra this July compounded the intense pressure Facebook is already under. “A lot of the questions weren’t even about Libra,” he noted, adding that Facebook’s bid to launch a proprietary cryptocurrency had served to intensify scrutiny over many of the platform’s existing operations.
He further argued, “Facebook already filters content – some people say with bias, some people say it’s great, they’re protecting my safe space […] So do we want filtered speech or free speech? Do we want filtered transactions or freedom?”
Pierre Rochard, the Podcast host, argued that the Congressional hearings had nonetheless been an ideal vehicle through which observers – many of them hailing from traditional financial backgrounds – were able to gain a better understanding of Bitcoin while realizing the inherent problems of a centralized and private initiative such as Libra.
While Davidson agreed, he also argued that the hearings had also had an opposite effect on those convinced of the need for central authorities as stewards of global finance. The hearings only served to cement their antagonism towards distributed ledgers and decentralized cryptocurrencies, and intensified their desire to crack down on the space.
The US Congressman said that as a means of payment, Libra could undoubtedly destabilize the status quo. He pointed to the fluidity with which monolithic tech giants such as Facebook and Google acquire quasi-sovereign properties, challenging governmental authority.
Libra focuses attention on Facebook’s prior failings. During the congressional hearings, US Representative Maxine Waters – chair of the US House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee – made the explicit connection between concerns raised during previous Facebook controversies and the platform’s bid to launch a stablecoin.
It’s important to note that Waters had already requested Facebook to halt work on Libra in the middle of June, soon after the project’s unveiling. She contended that the tech giant had a “demonstrated pattern of failing to keep consumer data private” and that it had “allowed malicious Russian state actors to purchase and target ads” to, purportedly, influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
US lawmakers have also pointedly asked Facebook how they could be expected to trust a firm whose collection, storage and misuse of customer data has already landed it a $5 billion penalty.