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Facebook is as bad for democracy as smoking, say tech experts, who think the cure is breaking up the social network

DAVOS — Nearly a year ago to the day, tech billionaire Marc Benioff chose the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Switzerland to tear into Facebook.

Speaking to CNBC, the Salesforce CEO said Mark Zuckerberg’s social network should be regulated by US lawmakers with the same vigour as the cigarette industry.

It’s a theory he has since built on a number of times, perhaps most vividly in November, when he told tech journalist Kara Swisher: “Facebook is the new cigarettes. It’s addictive, it’s not good for you, there’s people trying to get you to use it that even you don’t understand what’s going on.”

Since then, Facebook has continued to be used as a tool for democratic interference and has been at the centre of giant data scandals, not least the Cambridge Analytica breach. And the people Benioff credits with helping him arrive at his opinion are more convinced than ever that Facebook is as bad for democracy as smoking, and action is needed.

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