Facebook executive David Marcus, formerly of PayPal, appeared this week before the US Congress to introduce what could eventually become the world’s most-used e-currency system. Facebook has plans for this to become the preferred monetary instrument of the platform’s 2 billion global users.
It’s called “Libra”. Major media deem Facebook’s “Libra” a cryptocurrency. Yet the project is in fact antithetical to what cryptocurrency enthusiasts espouse. This is primarily because the digital money will be centralized and there is a very high financial bar to becoming a Libra participant ($10 million to become a transaction-authenticating “node”), thus making it an ideal vehicle for censorship.
Such censorship could be realized via Facebook et al’s de facto ability to financially penalize certain individuals whose ideas and speech are not compliant with its own “Terms of Service,” and likely what Libra and its eventual consortium of major corporate controllers deem acceptable.
In recent state “innovations” such as China’s “social credit/national reputation” system citizens can be excluded from real world activities simply because of their ideas and behavior, such a project brings up special concerns on how access to Facebook money may eventually be used.
In light of this Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy poses the most significant question of the hearings:
“Can Milo Yiannopoulos or Louis Farrakhan [both of whom have been banned from Facebook due to the content of their speech] use Libra? … On Facebook you don’t allow gun sales. So can a gun dealer who’s abiding by American law, use your system?”
Facebook’s Marcus replied that “we haven’t written a policy yet” governing such potential exclusion.
What is certain, however, is that the when that policy is written, it will be overseen and enforced not by democratically elected officials, but rather the major private corporate participants comprising the Libra consortium.