- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says some technology has addictive qualities and should be regulated.
- Benioff is the latest high profile tech executive to raise questions about the way some tech products have become intertwined in people’s daily lives.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff may have made his billions selling software, but that doesn’t mean he’s giving the tech industry a free pass.
Speaking with CNBC correspondent Andrew Ross Sorkin from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, Benioff said that it’s about time for Washington to start regulating Silicon Valley.
With discussions about Russian interference in US elections and the addictiveness of consumer tech currently at the forefront of the national conversation, Benioff said, Facebook should be regulated “exactly the same way you regulated the cigarette industry,” with the safety of consumers coming before the financial health of the companies.
It’s a sharp criticism from within an industry that has historically evaded government regulation. But Benioff isn’t the first CEO to suggest that all is not well in paradise.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke up last week to say that he didn’t want his nephew to use social networking sites. Even Sean Parker, former president of Facebook, recently suggested that social networks are a net-negative, saying, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
Here’s a transcript of the conversation:
Sorkin: How would you regulate a company like Facebook?
Benioff: You’d do it exactly the same way you regulated the cigarette industry. Here’s a product, cigarettes. They’re addictive. You know, they’re not good for you. Maybe there is all kinds of different forces trying to get you to do certain things. There’s a lot of parallels.
Sorkins: Is that how you feel about social media?
Benioff: For the most part, yeah.
Sorkin: Meaning, thinking about it as like a cigarette, in that kind of addictive way?
Benioff: I think that for sure technology has addictive qualities that we have to address and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive. We need to reign that back as much as possible.