Salesforce chief says social media should be regulated like tobacco

Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff

Salesforce boss Marc Benioff has compared social media to tobacco, saying companies like Facebook should be regulated in the same way as cigarette brands.

The executive told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos: "Here's a product cigarettes they're addictive, they're not good for you, maybe there's all kinds of different forces trying to get you to do certain things. There's a lot of parallels.

"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, and we need to rein that back as much as possible."

Benioff said that technology businesses are the same as any other industry, including financial services, consumer products and food. All of these sectors are closely watched by authorities to ensure they don't cut corners and operate in the best interests of the people. Being regulated ensures that there's a level playing field, no one has an advantage over the other and consumers are protected from harmful circumstances, he pointed out.

Benioff went on to say that when tech starts to be influenced by outside forces, someone should intervene because that's not what technology should be about.

He added that when Salesforce started, life was much easier because it wasn't policed. Salesforce was created to build a product and build a company that would make life much easier for people and improve the world. The company was founded with just 1% equity, 1% equity and 1% employees' time into a foundation. It had a purpose and that was to provide a solution to a problem.

Now that clarity has gone and businesses aren't concentrated on the culture or community anymore, but just the product they produce and that's when things start to go downhill.

Main image credit: World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland, via Wikimedia Commons

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.