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In the Media

article imageReddit co-founder won't buy Facebook stock over CISPA support

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By Anne Sewell
May 8, 2012 in Internet
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Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian won't be buying any stock in Facebook and has denounced them over their support of CISPA.
While Facebook is looking to make billions when the social media website goes public, one of the most influential men on the Internet will not be buying any stock due to Facebook's stance on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
In the interview above with CNN, Reddit's co-founder Alex Ohanian explains that he will not be investing in Facebook, even though it is the largest technology IPO in the Internet's history.
The reason for his hesitation to invest is clear - he believes that Facebook's stance on CISPA is very unsettling.
He tells CNN, “I understand the business value to what Facebook is doing. We’ve never seen a company like this before, ever. It knows things about our private lives that no one else does. And one of the big issues that a lot of us in the tech community have with Facebook of late has been their support of bills like CISPA that make it really easy for a business like Facebook to hand over very private data about us without any due process. So that’s why I’m gonna be holding off.”
Facebook boasts 901 million monthly active users, including around half a billion who use mobile phones to access their profiles. The social media network is accessible in more than 70 languages. Facebook's users upload approximately 300 million photos every day.
Thus is stands to reason that Facebook has access to a huge amount of private data. What is alarming is that they seem to be prepared to share that information with the government. While Facebook insists that they mean well by supporting CISPA, Ohanian and others are not convinced.
Ohanian, in a speech in Amsterdam last month voiced his opposition to CISPA: “We value privacy and a right to free speech in the real world, this is fundamental to our democracy. For some reason the rules change online, when it’s digital, but free speech and privacy should be respected online as well,” he said.
In an an interview with Venture Beat earlier this month, the General Manager of Reddit, Erik Martin stated that while his company does not usually take a political stance, the realities of what could happen if CISPA gets through is something that would affect not only the future of Reddit, but the whole Internet.
He said: “We’re not interested in activism, but there are times when we can help make sure the community’s voice is heard. And Reddit is built upon having a free and open internet … we’re open source, don’t require user info, user curated etc. So, anything that might threaten a free and open internet impacts both the community and the company.”
CISPA was recently signed by Congress, with the intention of allowing more sharing of possible cybersecurity threat information between the government and private sector. It has been criticized widely for the provision that would allow companies to share users' private data with government agencies, like the NSA or Department of Homeland Security without any legal comeback.
CISPA is now on its way to the Senate and with the White House threatening to veto the bill, it is hoped that it will go no further.
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