Facebook’s cryptocurrency may not be launched by 2020. Mark Zuckerberg says that it will take some time to consult and evaluate the project.
After several big scandals that eroded user trust in Facebook, the company, famous for its spirit of “moving fast and breaking things,” is looking carefully before leaping into the use of new technologies, mainly those related to virtual reality and cryptocurrencies, according to statements by the social network’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
In an interview with Asian Nikkei at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters, Zuckerberg said that many important social issues have made Facebook and other major Internet companies the center of social debate in recent years.
Zuckerberg readily acknowledged that his company fell behind on the work that it was supposed to do in areas such as protecting privacy, ensuring users’ well-being and avoiding electoral interference.
The social networking giant has been struggling with the consequences of its unprecedented growth and booming data economy. As a result, issues such as the Cambridge Analytica data leak and the spread of fake news that threaten democracy have caused outrage and mistrust among many users.
Whilst wearing his trademark T-shirt, Zuckerberg struggled to show that he and Facebook have matured and learned from these challenges. The company has undergone a major shift in approach to address risks more proactively, in the CEO’s opinion.
In the past, they focused on blocking the tools that were being used improperly. However, so many people are now using these tools that they cannot wait to start working on mitigating misuses. In other words, they have to stay one step ahead of them.
In that sense, the executive had some artificial intelligence systems built to help identify and eliminate potentially dangerous content, instead of waiting for users to report it. He added that he wants to ensure innovation and advancement in the state of the art of technology, even as these big social issues are being addressed.
He also spoke widely about his vision of using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to transform communication, which is part of Facebook’s stated mission to help people connect.
He considers that these tools will have a profound equalizing effect on society and will be very important to the economy as a whole. However, there are concerns about the large amount of data that VR systems can generate in users’ body and eye movements.
Zuckerberg sought to dispel some of these concerns by saying that Facebook’s privacy model for hardware such as oculus rift VR headsets is different from the service model, with much of the information stored on the device rather than online.
Dialogue with Regulators
Facebook’s plans to create its own crypto currency, Libra, have also drawn the attention of authorities in many countries to its possible effect on the worldwide financial system.
Zuckerberg, who thinks that cryptocurrencies can help people in emerging economies participate in the financial system, emphasized the need for dialogue with regulators to address this concern.
Regarding Facebook’s stated plans for a 2020 launch, the CEO explained that they want to move forward soon, which should not take many years, but ensuring that things are done right first.
He explained that this is a very different approach from what they could have taken five years ago. He concluded that it is the right way to do it, on their current operational scale.
By Willmen Blanco