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Salesforce CEO and chairman March Benioff did not hold back on his opinion on the negative side of Facebook and why the government should intervene. Benioff was on stage at the Disrupt SF 2019 Start-up Conference, where he openly compared Facebook to ‘cigarettes’. He was quoted as saying that the company “is the new cigarettes. It should be regulated.”

People often complain about everything as the government’s fault and want everything to be intervened or banned by them. However, Benioff has a valid point here and a strong one.

It is not the first instance where the Salesforce CEO has made his intentions clear about Facebook. He has shared his belief that the company is as harmful to the general public as it is to its users. He made things quite clear recently and was open about his discontent.

The Reason for This Remark

The list of negatives about Facebook in general and social media overall is not new or something unheard of. Instances of Fake News, Election interference, Contractors listening to recordings of your conversations, working conditions of content review contractors, Password and Data leaks, have been all over the News in recent times.

The general idea of Facebook making huge profits by leaking personal information to buyers, is something known to most of the people around the world. When it comes to regulation, the government is doing “too little, too late,” said Benioff onstage yesterday. He added, “The government has to step in.”

With the current flow of things, it seems inevitable that the tech industry will be slapped with more rules and regulations. Strict measures should be implemented on how a company handles personal information and private data, so that such incidents can be avoided in the future.

A Growing Problem

Benioff’s way of categorizing Facebook as harmful and addictive is completely a new perspective. Here he mainly points out the negative that the company brings to our lives with its uncontrolled usage, proving how it is extraordinarily dangerous for not only private data, but also our health.

The usage of Facebook has resulted in depression, divorce, bullying, eating disorders and reduced productivity. These are the issues that the 2 billion users on Facebook face in their “real” lives daily.

On the contrary, one can still argue that Facebook, unlike a cigarette, has some tangible benefits. It allows people from far off lands to stay connected with each other and it has also helped small unknown businessmen reach out to millions of people, which they would have never achieved without this platform. However, it is to be decided whether the benefits are enough to pay the high price.

Government Action

Benioff feels that if the Government intervenes and implements rules on the harmful and addictive areas of Facebook, things can be regulated right from the get-go. He feels that the Government must treat this, as it treats other harmful addictive items.

The company itself is unable to regulate itself, as it runs mainly on two things. Firstly on engagement, as it wants people to spend more time on Facebook. Secondly, it is monetizing personal data to bring in ads and it does that job with aplomb.

The normal market forces don’t apply here because of its free service to the users. Also, people are ignorant about protecting their personal data. There is a difference between what they think about it and what they can actually do, to stop it from leaking.

The company has shown no signs to change on its own, as Mark Zuckerberg hardly spoke about this concerns on this issue. He resonates the good intentions of the company, as he continues to assure its users to ‘trust the company’.

A Possible Solution

“We need a national privacy law here in the U.S. as well,” Benioff said at the conference. The way things are turning out, it is possibly time for someone to plug the hole and stop it from over-flowing. A proper set of regulations are needed to create a framework, under which personal information can be collected, stored and monetized, in a protected and secured background.

Not just the companies who track your personal data must request for access, but also the ones that monetize it. They also need to maintain privacy by default, instead of hiding it in a scheme of jumbled up settings, which not every user can comprehend easily. People must also have an option to check what these companies track, with another option of opting out whenever needed.

While Benioff makes the right noise and shows faith in the Government to take control over these problems, it is still up in the air while the solutions are still a proposed plan for someone to take charge. It is about time that something needs to be done.

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