Meta Faces Congressional Scrutiny Over Crypto Activities: What Does the Future Hold?

In early 2022, Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, wrote a Harvard Business Review case study on how established brands could utilize non-fungible tokens (NFTs) before the crypto market crashed. Sundararajan discussed the growing trend of tech firms like Twitter and Facebook (now known as Meta) allowing more user customization through NFT avatars, suggesting that NFTs could enhance conspicuous consumption on social media platforms.

However, little did Sundararajan know that the crypto market would soon plummet, causing NFTs to lose value. Meta, in response, discontinued NFT functionality on its Instagram and Facebook apps to focus on other areas where it could make a larger impact. This setback was not the first time Facebook’s crypto plans faced obstacles. The company’s previous attempts at launching a stablecoin called Libra and a scaled-down version called Diem were met with regulatory challenges and eventually abandoned.

Despite the recent market rebound, it is unlikely that Meta will fully embrace blockchain technology. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced a shift in focus towards the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), directing the company’s vast resources in that direction. Therefore, it is doubtful that Meta will significantly contribute to crypto adoption in the near future.

Surprisingly, Meta is now facing scrutiny from Congress regarding its crypto activities. Representative Maxine Waters expressed concerns over blockchain-related trademarks filed by the company. Waters, who previously opposed Facebook’s Libra and Diem projects, believes that these trademarks indicate Meta’s continued interest in expanding its role in the digital assets market. This contradicts statements made by Meta representatives during a committee meeting last October, where they claimed that there was no ongoing digital assets work at the company.

Waters’ letter to Meta’s CEO and COO questions the company’s intentions and asks whether Meta has plans for stablecoins, partnerships, or a payments platform. She also inquires about Meta’s involvement in cryptocurrency creation, mining, storage, and transmission. Waters wants to know in advance how Meta will respond to the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office, which has sent the company five Notice of Allowance (NOA) documents indicating that Meta’s blockchain trademarks meet registration requirements.

The timing of Waters’ questions aligns with Meta’s deadline to respond to the first NOA it received. While it may seem fair for Waters to seek clarification, her letter also suggests a broader concern about Meta’s involvement in the crypto industry. She wants to determine if Meta has any plans or partnerships related to cryptocurrencies and if its technology enables crypto-related activities.

In conclusion, the recent scrutiny faced by Meta regarding its crypto activities raises questions about the company’s intentions and future involvement in the digital assets market. As the crypto market rebounds, it remains to be seen how Meta will navigate these inquiries and whether it will actively pursue or distance itself from blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.