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Facebook is 'addictive, bad for us,' says Salesforce CEO

Marc Benioff says the social media platform needs to be "held accountable for propaganda."

Calls to split up Facebook are growing.
Angela Lang/CNET

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has taken aim at Facebook, saying the social media giant must be held accountable for information posted on its site. Benioff was responding to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement Wednesday that he'll be making a speech Thursday at 10 a.m. PT about his views on free expression. 

"Facebook is a publisher. They need to be held accountable for propaganda on their platform," Benioff tweeted Wednesday. "We must have standards & practices decided by law. FB is the new cigarettes -- it's addictive, bad for us, & our kids are being drawn in."

Benioff also called for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to be abolished. The law gives automatic liability protection to social media companies for  any content posted by their users.

The Salesforce chief then pushed for the breakup of Facebook during an interview with CNN.

"It's addictive, it's not good for you, they're after your kids, they're running political ads that aren't true," Benioff told CNN on Wednesday. "They're also acquiring other companies and co-mingling [data] ... they probably should be broken up because they're having an undue influence as the largest social media platform on the planet."

According to CNN, Benioff's criticisms of Facebook in 2018 led to a call from COO Sheryl Sandberg, during which he emphasized trust.

Zuckerberg said his speech on freedom of expression Thursday would be "the most comprehensive take I've written about my views."

"Why I believe voice is important, how giving people voice and bringing people together go hand in hand, how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world," Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook account.

The post follows Zuckerberg's remark earlier this week that he meets with lots of people because it's "part of learning." That comment was prompted by a report detailing a series of quiet meetings the Facebook boss had with conservative figures in the US over the summer.

The meetings, which took the form of small, off-record dinners at Zuckerberg's home since July, have included conservative talk show hosts, journalists and at least one Republican lawmaker, Politico reported Monday.

"There's some press today discussing dinners I've had with conservative politicians, media and thinkers," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Monday. "To be clear, I have dinners with lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time."

According to an unnamed person quoted by Politico, the dinners have been focused on "free expression, unfair treatment of conservatives, the appeals process for real or perceived unfair treatment, fact-checking, partnerships and privacy."

Facebook's policies toward what speech is acceptable on its platform continue to cause controversy. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, began running a Facebook ad last week that contained a deliberate falsehood; she did it to protest the social network allowing false statements from politicians to be posted on the platform.