Facebook’s Libra is a pile of red flags ready to be stuffed down your throat and wallet
Trust is earned, not taken.
Facebook, amid another story exposing one of its call centers as a literal hell on Earth (though I maintain all call centers are), announced it will be launching its own cryptocurrency next year called Libra. Except that it’s not really a cryptocurrency and not really attached to Facebook.
Except that it is simultaneously both those things and not those things. It will reside on the blockchain and be a digital currency, but issued by Libra in exchange for actual dollars, rather than having to be mined like Bitcoin.
It’s backed by tens of millions of real dollar investments from companies like Mastercard, Visa, Uber, Lyft, PayPal and others. Noticeably absent from the investor list are big tech firms like Google, Twitter, and Apple. There’s red flag number two.
Red flag number one is Facebook itself
Facebook has proven time and time again that it does not really give a shit about your data. It only cares about the advertiser dollars that fuel the machine. It cares more about your death than your data. It has no intention of safeguarding your data, nor seems to really want to.
While Libra is a separate company, Facebook gets a board seat. Then there is Calibra, a subsidiary of Facebook that will be building the consumer-facing digital wallet and apps. Calibra will also get a board vote. While board votes don’t directly equate into Facebook having its hand in the Libra cookie jar, it does imply that Facebook will have a lot more freedom to fuck this up than any other company involved. So why does Facebook want to get into the crypto game?
Facebook wants to be a bank
Not just a bank, but the bank. We now know why Facebook was chatting up banks last year. Facebook said it was about chatbots, but it was likely about how to do bank stuff. Facebook, er, Libra claims in its white paper that it has more altruistic ambitions. It wants to be a financial service for parts of the world where it’s difficult to access a bank.
Libra is making every effort to distance itself from Facebook’s privacy issues, a couple of points in the white paper and Calibra address customer account information and financial data by claiming none of it will be used to shove coal in the Facebook ad targeting choo-choo. However, Calibra will be using Facebook data for account security, compliance and risk mitigation. So there will be some crossover. Just the association between the two makes my skin crawl.
For a moment, let us assume (the mother of all fuck-ups) that Facebook really will be hands-off with Libra and simply sit on the board and nod. To what end? Well, world domination of course. Libra has the potential to be the one-true crypto ring to rule them all. With Facebook’s reach, it has the chance to almost immediately go global and become more than just an in-app payment button. Facebook wants to replace currency with Libra. That’s red flag number three.
Most of us will never use Libra
Not intentionally anyway. Most regular Facebook users will never start out their day by saying “hey, after I post some unaccredited political memes and puke out some unverified low-key racist garbage in all the comments of most of my friends and family, I’m going to do some transnational crypto-flingin’ with that there Libra.”
If it actually launches, it most likely won’t launch in the United States where banking regulations are tighter than Kevin’s puckering brown-eye on a Thursday night after a hearty steak dinner and angry-watching the Red Sox lose. Some in our government are already skeptical and calling for oversight. It won’t launch in India, where billions of Facebook users reside, due to strict crypto laws.
But if it does launch, Calibra will be the entry point, possibly functioning like Venmo or checking accounts. The only good thing here is that it would be a secured-on-the-blockchain currency and not open to hacking like any other digital payment service. The bad thing here is that it’s yet another clear sign that Silicon Valley is just Wall Street 2.0 and eventually, will show its true colors by destroying some aspect of humanity, most likely in the financial sector. Red flag number four.
So, like, should I really give a shit about this?
Probably not. Really, you should quit Facebook now before it makes your life any worse than it already has. Sure, on the surface it may seem like you’re having a wonderful time posting pictures of your kids and your jogging paths on Facebook, but it’s slowly destroying your mind. Facebook, not content to have wormed its tendrils into every aspect of your personal life, has created Libra to get its tendrils into your financial life.
This could be the thing that brings everything crashing down around us, or it could truly revolutionize traditional banking and open up financial freedom for much of the world. It could be both evil and altruistic all at once. It could be a massive money maker for investors, it could be a boon for users looking for banking alternatives and crypto without the confusion of crypto.
My suggestion would be to keep an open mind, an open, hateful mind with a constant side-eye to Mark and company because they do not have your best interests in mind. Why would they? Why should Facebook give a shit about your private data? Once you put it online, it’s not yours, it belongs to Facebook. Now apply that line of thinking to banking and Libra. Red flag number five.
If you want to know more about Libra, like really want to how it will integrate with the current social media landscape and how much it will affect your life and whether or not it’s really a good idea, Alphaville has a detailed yet cynical Facebook Libra cheat sheet.
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