Mark Zuckerberg faces grilling on Facebook's ambitious digital currency plans
Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be grilled by lawmakers over the company’s plan to launch a digital currency and efforts to prevent foreign election interference when he appears before a Congressional panel on Wednesday.
Libra, Facebook’s digital currency project, has faltered in recent weeks amid sustained criticism from lawmakers and regulators over fears it may aid money laundering and upend the global financial system.
That political heat has led several of its key financial partners including Mastercard, Visa, PayPal and eBay to abandon the project.
Zuckerberg will try to reassure skeptical lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee that the project will meet strict regulatory standards, poses no threat to sovereign currencies, and will steer well clear of the monetary policy arena, according to prepared testimony released Tuesday.
Zuckerberg at House hearing: "I actually don't know if Libra is going to work. But I believe that it's important to try new things... That's what has made America successful and it's why our tech industry has led the world." https://t.co/MMk1WyrLMX pic.twitter.com/1DwBoWojcy— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 23, 2019
He is also likely to be questioned about the company’s steps to combat misinformation and voter suppression ahead of the November 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The company disclosed on Monday it had removed a network of Russian accounts targeting U.S. voters on Instagram, which Facebook owns.
“If Mr. Zuckerberg wants to be king, he can be king of the social networks. But I don’t want him to have the additional arsenal of financial data on people,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Texas who sits on the committee told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re prepared for an interesting hearing tomorrow.”
Zuckerberg last appeared before Congress in April 2018 when he fielded 10 hours of questions over two days from House and Senate panels on political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook customer data to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.
That scandal badly damaged Facebook’s image in Washington and has compounded worries among lawmakers that the social media giant cannot be trusted to launch a global digital currency to its 2.4 billion users.