Recent events have shown that this isn’t the best of times for Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s recently announced Libra has been met with so much backlash that there is now some speculation that the proposed 2020 launch date might no longer be possible.
The hearing which lasted about two days, for more than a few hours each day, saw Marcus on the receiving end of heavy questioning by members of the Congress about certain issues Facebook is known to have, especially regarding privacy.
Amazon is Trusted. Facebook is Not.
Ben Mezrich, the author of “Accidental Billionaires” – the book, which “The Social Network” movie about Facebook’s inception was based on – has weighed in on the situation and seems to be taking sides against Facebook but not particularly with Congress.
Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Mezrich said trust is important and people don’t trust Facebook, adding that an idea like the Libra would have been better handled by Amazon instead. According to him:
“This is all about trust. You can’t have a bank, you can’t be a new currency without people trusting it if you’re going to sit in the middle of it, and people don’t trust Facebook.”
He went further, saying:
“I think that Amazon could pull this off because for whatever reason, we all trust Amazon. We put our credit cards in there every day.”
Would Amazon Really Be Better?
What we know is that Facebook has been enmeshed in privacy issues for a while. Very recently, there were calls from many quarters, both within the company and outside of it, that it was necessary to split the company. We also know that Amazon has not had as many issues as Facebook but as likely as it is, it cannot be definitively concluded that Amazon would do a better job regarding privacy.
A little earlier, Amazon admitted to the U.S. Senate that it keeps some voice data of its Echo/Alexa customers sometimes. According to Amazon:
“We retain customers’ voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them.”
Amazon further explained that users can recall or delete voice recordings of a particular time frame, or the entire history. However, it would appear that some of these things could still be held on Amazon’s servers. It suggested this saying:
“We already delete those transcripts from all of Alexa’s primary storage systems, and we have an ongoing effort to ensure those transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa’s other storage systems.”
This could be interpreted to mean that there are some parts of the data that goes undeleted.
Amazon claims that these recordings and transcripts are kept to improve on the smart functions and artificial intelligence of Alexa but that is probably not the entire story. Regardless, Amazon has been criticized a lot less than Facebook has and Mezrich did say that if Amazon had floated the Libra or its own digital asset,
“Regulators would be on them, but it wouldn’t be like this.”