The number of users in Europe is falling due to the privacy scandals. But Facebook is growing in total, by around 8 percent last year. Vaidhyanathan: “If someone leaves Facebook in the Netherlands, fifty will be added in Brazil. With this growth, Facebook will have 2.5 billion users next year.”
Moreover, Instagram and WhatsApp are also growing. Facebook will integrate Messenger and the messaging service from Instagram with WhatsApp. Facebook promised not to do that with the acquisition of WhatsApp, and was already fined by the European Commission for breaking that promise.
Facebook has just announced its own payment unit: the libra. This allows users to make payments from affiliated partners such as Uber and Amazon from next year. The Bank for International Payments warns that the libra can lead to 'misuse of user data' and possibly 'threaten financial stability'.
“Of course I understand that people have doubts about our reliability. That is why the libra is housed in a separate company,” says Clegg. “We will not and cannot be in charge.”
Facebook's co-founder, Chris Hughes, recently called in The New York Times to split up Facebook. But according to Clegg, this does not solve privacy, democracy and hate message issues. “That is not a pragmatic solution.”
Vaidhyanathan also does not expect this to be a realistic option: “It is more likely that we will see an even bigger, more powerful, more integrated Facebook in the coming years. Facebook wants to become the operating system of our lives. And they are well on their way.”
Only another business model, in which Facebook does not earn user data, can turn the tide. But Clegg sees nothing in that. “The market vendor in Bangladesh and the shepherd in Australia now have just as much opportunity to use our means of communication as a wealthy banker in The Hague. And that is what makes Facebook's business model so special.”