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Facebook's Trojan Horse

July 9 · Issue #41 · View online
iAfrikan Daily Brief
The European Central Bank (ECB) has become the latest regulator to voice their concerns around Facebook’s proposed digital currency, Libra. The ECB has said that Libra is a wake-up call for regulators to move faster with regulation and just like the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, the ECB see Libra as the introduction of an alternative monetary policy.
Given that the noise around Libra is not dying down and that no African policymakers to date (that I know of) have made any official public statements around Libra (after all, Facebook and its partners have made it clear that they are targeting developing countries), I set out to read the Libra white paper for the third time earlier today.
Somehow, I found something I had missed or wasn’t paying enough attention to previously. More importantly, I haven’t read or heard anyone highlight what I found in the Libra white paper after my third reading of it.
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo: The Procession of the Trojan Horse into Troy. Greek mythology mentions how a hollow wooden statue of a horse (a Trojan Horse) in which the Greeks are said to have concealed themselves in order to enter Troy.
Hidden (in plain sight) deep in the guts of a white paper light on details and heavy on marketing talk about financial inclusion and the world’s 2 billion without adequate financial services are two sentences that seem to be placed nonchalantly atop page 9 of the Libra white paper, yet they could have far reaching impact.
“An additional goal of the [Libra] association is to develop and promote an open identity standard. We believe that decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.” - Page 9 of the Libra white paper.
In yesterday’s edition of the newsletter I mentioned how, in my opinion, Facebook would need to fix their processes as far as requiring a bank account and a government issued ID as the first two steps to using Calibra, the official Libra digital wallet. Those first two requirements are likely to prove a stumbling block for them gaining traction especially in some African countries. However, with mention of the Libra Association (i.e. the non-profit organization legally formed in Switzerland that includes Facebook and its corporate partners who are each contributing $10 million towards the development of Libra) also pursuing the development of an open standard for digital IDs could it be that Facebook already has a solution for part of this problem?
Considering that Facebook, along with its subsidiary platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, is home to over 2 billion people, could this be the new global ID standard that will surpass and be more trusted than government issued IDs?
Although I could not find any further details on the proposed Libra digital ID and Facebook have also refused to comment when I asked, in my opinion it has a far bigger impact than the proposed currency as, if adopted and rolled out successfully it solves one of the web’s biggest issues, trust. I can already envision how it fits in with some of its other acquisitions, for example, Facebook acquired a face recognition tool that it incorporated into its main Facebook platform that would identify faces in the photos you post automatically and suggest you tag them. This, could possibly be used outside of government issued IDs given the trove of (tagged) photos Facebook already has of billions of people around the world, to verify identity.
Facebook Accessibility - New Face Recognition Features
This to me is Facebook’s Trojan Horse with Libra a necessary part but of lesser significance than the ability for Facebook to be able to run a platform that can verify and vouch for the identity of billions of people independent from any government.
Controlling the flow of money gives you some power. Controlling trust and identities, gives you control. I really wasn’t kidding when I said welcome to the People’s Republic of Facebook.
📷 Lee Martin, ex co-owner of AllSport agency and now Senior Vice President at Getty Images speaks about the company’s expansion into Africa. Martin also talks about Getty Images partnership with APO. Link
👾 A Libyan hacker used Facebook to access tens of thousands of users’ data. The hacker managed to do this by tricking users into clicking and installing malware on their phones and computers. Link
🖥️ Every single day, digital technologies collect our data. Despite having such large datasets, tech companies can’t solve social issues, for that, we need social solutions. Link
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