Could Libra Threaten Democracy?

Libra could prove as dangerous as misinformation spread over Facebook. Until we understand its implications, regulators should press pause on the whole idea.

Facebook has announced a plan to launch a new cryptocurrency named the Libra, adding another layer to its efforts to dominate global communications and business. Backed by huge finance and technology companies including Visa, Spotify, eBay, PayPal, and Uber—plus a ready-made user base of 2 billion people around the world—Facebook is positioned to pressure countries and central banks to cooperate with its reinvention of the global financial system.

In my view as a social media researcher and educator, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clearly seeking to give his company even more political power on a global scale, despite the potential dangers to society at large. In a sense, he is declaring that he wants Facebook to become a virtual nation, populated by users, powered by a self-contained economy, and headed by a CEO–Zuckerberg himself–who is not even accountable to his shareholders.

Facebook hasn’t behaved responsibly in the past, and is still wrestling with significant public concerns—and investigations—about its privacy practices, information accuracy, and targeted advertising. Therefore, it’s important to see through the hype. People must consider who is reshaping the world, and whether they are doing it in the best interests of humankind—or whether they are just seeking to benefit the new class of elite technology executives.

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