The famous social media behemoth, Facebook has been caught in the crossfire of regulatory issues, as a string of criticism and skepticism have casted a shadow of doubt on Libra, Facebook’s forthcoming cryptocurrency venture.
Facebook’s crypto project was pitched as a way of aiding people in emerging and developing economies across the globe to participate in the financial system. In other words, the platform hoped that Libra would bank the unbanked population around the world.
This endeavor managed to raise a lot of eyebrows among authorities and regulatory bodies in many countries, as they came together to weigh in on the potential effect Libra would bring on the global financial system. And since the launch of its whitepaper, the social media company has been fighting a constant legal battle in order to see through the launch of Libra.
Though rattled concerning the fate of Libra, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a recent interview confirmed that the platform is taking a much more careful approach to Libra as compared to its previous projects. Speaking in an interview with the Asia-based news outlet Nikkei on Sept. 26, he addressed the questions that have been shrouding the launch of Libra, all the while adding that the questions are nonetheless warranted.
Zuckerberg ardently believes that in order to properly address the unease that is surrounding the crypto project, a proper two-way dialogue with the regulators is essential. He added:
A lot of people have had questions and concerns, and we’re committed to making sure that we work through all of those before moving forward
He further emphasized on how the social media giant has changed its approach and has undergone a “big focus shift” when it comes to launching new products. Zuckerberg was most likely referring to the fast and disruptive approach that the company was famous for.
It seems that time has taught Facebook the valuable lesson of taking a look before taking the leap, and Zuckerberg is apparently on board with this new and improved approach. However, it remains unclear whether it’s a personal choice or due to the regulatory pressures following issues like the Cambridge Analytica data leak.
Regardless, Facebook has to stick to the approach because according to Zuckerberg they have to have sound discussions before launching any product that is going to be sensitive for the society, such as the Libra. He further added:
We want to have a period where we can go out and talk about them and consult with people and get feedback and work through the issues before rolling them out.
Moreover, while mentioning the new prelaunch feedback-centric approach he unabashedly admitted that the company wouldn’t have stuck to the same cautious method as that of now, five years ago.
And that’s a very different approach than what we might have taken five years ago. But I think it’s the right way for us to do this at the scale that we operate in.
Facebook had previously announced that it would be launching Libra to the public by 2020, which is only 3 months away from now. However when asked in the interview about the launch, Zuckerberg didn’t mention anything that could confirm or deny the launch date. In fact he steered clear of providing a tentative time frame altogether, as he said:
Obviously we want to move forward at some point soon [and] not have this take many years to roll out. But right now I’m really focused on making sure that we do this well
Meanwhile, Facebook’s Libra hasn’t managed to catch a break, as only last month top data protection officials from the U.S., EU and U.K. voiced concerns over Libra and the issue of privacy. According to reports, the regulators were surprised and concerned about the lack of information Facebook and its subsidiary Calibra had provided when it comes to protecting user data. Their joint statement read:
They [Facebook & Calibra] have failed to specifically address the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information.
Despite all the bad press the social media platform has attracted, some individuals in the crypto community are scorning upon authorities because their approach seems to be keen on stifling innovation. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong is amongst those individuals, he took to Twitter extending support to Facebook and Libra.
Libra is one of several important crypto projects on the horizon with the potential to improve the world. Whether it works or not still remains to be seen, but I find the backlash to it a bit odd and misguided