As Libra Battles Critics, Zuckerberg Aims to Win Over US Policymakers

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is in Washington for meetings with policymakers to discuss internet regulatory matters such as privacy, competition and its handling of political content.

As noted in Bloomberg’s Sept. 19 report, the meetings come after a summer of intense scrutiny of Facebook’s proposed Libra stablecoin project from United States lawmakers and regulators.

A social media titan in center stage

In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone indicated that Zuckerberg would be discussing “future internet regulation” with policymakers during his visit. 

Reportedly at Facebook’s request, Democrat senator and Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner has already helped to organize a dinner this week between Zuckerberg and other U.S. senators, in which:

“The participants had a discussion touching on multiple issues, including the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social media space.” 

The CEO will further meet with Democrat senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State, who sits on the Senate Commerce Committee as it presently debates new privacy legislation. 

A meeting is also scheduled with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California, although sources have declined to provide detailed information about the appointment.

Libra facing resistance on both sides of the pond

During congressional hearings devoted to Libra this July, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters — chair of the United States House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee — made the explicit connection between concerns raised during earlier Facebook controversies and the platform’s bid to launch a stablecoin. 

Waters had already requested that Facebook halt work on Libra in the middle of June, soon after the project’s unveiling.

She contended that the tech giant had a “demonstrated pattern of failing to keep consumer data private” and that it had “allowed malicious Russian state actors to purchase and target ads” to — purportedly — influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

A host of U.S. lawmakers continue to express their persistent “concerns [...] with allowing a large tech company to create a privately controlled, alternative global currency.”

This month, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that France will not authorize the development of Libra on European soil. He has characterized Libra as an “attribute of the sovereignty of the States” and argued that it should thus “remain in the hands of the States and not of the private companies which answer to private interests."