Facebook co-founder says social networks to face more regulation

Facebook. (Joerg Koch, dapd, AP)
Facebook. (Joerg Koch, dapd, AP)

Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, said that social networks are heading for more regulation and change, as political pressures mount and users fragment into specialised interests.

Governments will inevitably get involved in regulating networks like Facebook and Twitter in the wake of attempts to manipulate public opinion and interfere in elections, he said. He spoke only hours after Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey appeared before the U.S. Congress.

“It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of the type of regulation,” Saverin said at the Bloomberg Sooner Than You Think technology summit in Singapore.

Saverin started Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg and left after a falling-out, but he expressed confidence in the company’s ability to navigate its way through the current troubles.

“It’s difficult to see a company that’s so close to my heart going through a point of public scrutiny,” said Saverin, who now lives in Singapore and invests in startups through his B Capital.

“I have tremendous faith in Mark and the team that he’s built around him and, frankly, the intentions that Facebook was born out of from day one.”

B Capital was founded by Saverin and Raj Ganguly in 2016. In February, the VC firm closed a $360 million fund to invest in financial services and insurance, digital health, and consumer technology. It has backed about 20 startups globally including scooter-rental service Bird and parcel-delivery service Ninja Van. Other portfolio companies include Mswipe Technologies, a digital payments provider in India and CapitalMatch, a platform for invoice financing and secured lending.

Saverin says that social networks are now forming around specific communities, drawing user attention away from massive networks like the one he founded. He cited the example of Fishbrain, a mobile service for anglers that B Capital has backed.

“It let me go back to my childhood and do a little bit of fishing,” he said. “Is it monetisable? Is it a large market? Is there actual benefit? I think the answer is yes with respect to fishing. It fits in every single criteria.”

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