On the second day of congressional hearings probing Facebook’s financial ambitions, Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) pressed the company’s cryptocurrency lead David Marcus over who will have access to its proposed digital currency, Libra.
“Can Milo Yiannopoulos or Louis Farrakhan use Libra?” Duffy asked. Both Yiannopoulos and Farrakhan have been banned from Facebook for violating its speech policies. PayPal and other financial tech companies have banned controversial figures in the past.
“I don’t know yet,” Marcus told the lawmaker.
In an effort to illustrate the opacity of a Facebook-run currency, Duffy held up a $20 bill for effect and asked, “Who can use this? Who can use Libra?” In response, Marcus equivocated about “thoughtful” and “appropriate” regulations for the cryptocurrency, as he had throughout both days of hearings.
Duffy responded forcefully: “The thoughtful answer would be ‘As long as you abide by the law, you can use Libra,’ but that isn’t the answer you’ve given me, which gives me great pause.”
Speaking with The Daily Beast, Facebook spokeswoman Elka Looks clarified, saying that Marcus addressed the concerns in his later responses during the hearing.
“For Libra, anyone who is engaging in lawful activity will be able to transact on the network. Facebook will have no say,” Looks said. “For Calibra, there is no policy in place yet, but we will share it when it is closer to being finalized.”
Last month, Facebook announced that it would create a worldwide cryptocurrency, drawing backlash from a range of international lawmakers, including President Trump. Marcus, CEO of the Facebook subsidiary Calibra, is overseeing the company’s efforts to create a cryptocurrency and recruit partners. He testified before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday and the House Committee On Financial Services Wednesday.
Reached for comment after the hearing, Duffy said in a statement, “I think it was the wrong answer. It’s troubling that they’re going to decide who can or cannot use their platform.”
Duffy’s comments echoed those of Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), who brought up the issue of Facebook’s purported bias against conservatives at Facebook’s Tuesday hearing. Beyond anecdotes, Republican lawmakers have failed to provide evidence supporting their claims.
Facebook has said that the Libra cryptocurrency and its governing body, the Libra Association, will not share personal information or guidelines with Facebook.