WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Facebook’s push to create a digital currency created a lot of pushback on Capitol Hill.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the lone witness before the House Financial Services Committee. Lawmakers aired concerns over the proposed crypto-currency, called “Libra” and how it might affect the U.S. Dollar.
“Perhaps you believe that you’re above the law and it appears that you are aggressively increasing the size of your company and are willing to step on or over anyone—including your competitors—women, people of color, your own users, and even our democracy to get what you want,” said House Committee on Financial Services Chair Representative Maxine Waters. “All of these problems I’ve outlined and given the company’s size and reach it should be clear why we have serious concerns about your plans to establish a global digital currency that would challenge the U.S. Dollar. In fact, you have opened up a serious discussion about whether Facebook should be broken up.”
Zuckerberg said, “We’re committed to getting all of the appropriate U.S. approvals before launching the Libra payment system in any country in the world, even where those approvals might not be strictly required.”
Zuckerberg said he wants Libra to help under-banked and un-banked people. To that, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca.) said, “For the richest man in the world to come here and hide behind the poorest people in the world, and say that’s who you’re really trying to help… You’re trying to help those for whom the dollar is not a good currency, drug dealers, terrorists, tax evaders.”
Zuckerberg was also questioned about political ads and fact-checking politicians on Facebook. He said, “We do not fact check politicians’ speech and the reason for that is that we believe that in a Democracy it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying. Political speech is some of the most scrutinized speech already in the world.”
“Do you fact check on any ads at all?” Rep. Waters asked. “Yes,” Zuckerberg replied.
When asked what Facebook fact-checks on, Zuckerberg explained, “Well, chairwoman, actually, thank you for the opportunity to clarify. Facebook itself actually does not check, it does not fact check. What we do is we have feedback that people in our community don’t want to see viral hoaxes or kind of…”
Rep. Waters interrupted, “So, let me be clear, you do no fact-checking on any ads, is that correct?
“Chairwoman, what we do is we work with a set of independent fact-checkers who…”
“Somebody fact checks on ads, you contract with someone to do that, is that right?” Rep. Waters interjected. “Chairwoman, yes,” Zuckerberg stated.