DAVOS – Almost a year before this day, tech billionaire Marc Benioff has chosen the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to immerse himself in Facebook.
Speaking to CNBC, Salesforce's CEO said that Mark Zuckerberg's social network should be regulated by US legislators with the same strength as the cigarette industry.
It's a theory he's built up a few times since then, perhaps most vividly in November, when he told tech journalist Kara Swisher, "Facebook is the new cigarette, it's addictive, it's not good for you, it there are people who try to make you use it, even you do not understand what's going on. "
Since then, Facebook continues to be used as a tool for democratic interventions and is at the center of huge data scandals, not least of the breaches of Cambridge Analytica. The people Benioff has to thank for helping him come to his conclusion are more convinced than ever that Facebook is as bad for democracy as smoking, and that action is needed.
Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, which works to improve children's online protection, was one of the people Benioff talked to on Facebook before a round.
"We believe that there are big problems related to addiction, attention and distraction caused by social media platforms," he told Business Insider. "The past year was a turning point in the relationship between technology and global society, showing the emperor that he has no clothes, which means Facebook, and Facebook and others were exposed to the fact that they were attacking our democratic institutions. "
Roger McNamee, a former Facebook investor and former mentor Zu Zuckerberg was another who discussed tobacco analogy with Benioff.
He told Business Insider: "Marc Benioff has decided to look at this through the lens of public health, which in my opinion is just the right starting point."
"The incentives to manipulate attention are all the weakest elements of human psychology, it's not enough to know much about us, the goal is now, what we think and what we do,
Steyer added, "The cigarette comparison was great, in my opinion, because the average person gets it." To do so, a global conversation needs to be conducted, and there must be a reasonable set of tech companies.
Read More : Marc Benioff says Facebook looked like a train wreck even before it was knocked down by a series of scandalous scandals
A breakup could be the cure
The Common Sense Media chief was involved in drafting new data protection laws in California and was in Brussels last week, speaking with legislators about the GDPR and other tech regulations.
"Now people know that it's a well-balanced one Tech approach must exist. The idea that they protect the public interest and regulate themselves is foolish. They need a much more public-interest approach, "he said.
McNamee says that the power of companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon should be curtailed, in a post for Time Magazine before the publication of his book next Month, he suggested preventing them from making acquisitions and preventing data sharing between affiliates.
"The economy would benefit from a breakup," he added, adding that Steyer agreed, "Maybe they should be forced to Instagram and to sell Facebook. [A breakup] would not be a bad idea at all. Let them concentrate on their core business. "
Facebook declined to comment," COO Sheryl Sandberg told the DLD conference in Munich on Sunday, Facebook is open for cooperation with the regulatory authorities and strive for improvements. We need to stop abuse faster and we need to better protect people's data. We have acknowledged our mistakes, "she said.