Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called Facebook a “cancer to democracy” in a tweet on Thursday shortly after the company announced that it was changing its corporate name to Meta to better represent its focus on building the metaverse.
“Meta as in “we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!” said Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday.
Ocasio-Cortez is one of Facebook’s loudest critics in Congress and has called the company a threat to democracy before. When lawmakers first started to critique Facebook’s market dominance in 2019, she tweeted, “Facebook may have its own problems, but it’s increasingly starting to look like our society (namely, our democracy) has a Facebook problem.”
Earlier this month, Facebook’s years of scandals reached a boiling point when the Wall Street Journal published several articles on the company’s own research provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Weeks later, Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection, outlining how platforms like Instagram harm children and teens. That testimony sparked new interest from lawmakers to regulate the tech giant.
Facebook has since refused to publish more of its internal research that Haugen leaked, but the company faced yet another scandal when reporters gained access to additional Haugen documents and authored a deluge of other articles examining the company on Monday. These reports have only motivated lawmakers to pursue further legislative action, and Facebook’s corporate rebrand hasn’t distracted them from these efforts.
“You can run, but you can’t hide, Facebook,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who is leading measures to protect child privacy online, in a Thursday tweet. “A new nom de plume may confuse & distract, but won’t erase years of devious practices & disregard for privacy, kids’ well-being, spreading hate, & genocide.”
“Changing Facebook’s name doesn’t change what you’ve done, Mark,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the top Republican on Blumenthal’s subcommittee, said on Thursday.
As part of her 2020 presidential platform, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first to call on the federal government to break up Facebook and other tech giants. Warren reinforced this point in a Thursday tweet, writing, “Facebook changing their corporate name to Meta isn’t going to change the underlying facts. They’re a monopoly. They crush competition. And they refuse to control the spread of misinformation and harmful content on their site. We need to break up Facebook.”