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Benioff: Companies like Facebook and Twitter must take 'full responsibility' for what they've created

Nicole Sinclair
·Markets Correspondent

Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com’s (CRM) founder and CEO, has become an outspoken figurehead in the tech industry. At the company’s 15th annual Dreamforce event, Benioff said the current controversy surrounding fake news on tech sites is an important moment for the entire sector.

“This is, I think, a marquee moment in our industry because what you basically heard from companies like Facebook and Twitter is that they’ve created these amazing new technologies but even they don’t know how they’re being used and they don’t even know who’s using them,” Benioff said. “Well, that’s unacceptable. These companies have to take full responsibility for the technology that they’ve created and to make sure that it’s being used in a proper way with the right morals and values that we would expect any corporation to be led by.”

Last week, executives from Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Alphabet (GOOGL) told Congress they will confront and solve the issue of fake news and fraudulent advertising.

Benioff added, though, that his doesn’t necessarily mean long-term damage to the companies.

“I think for a lot of these companies, I hope for them it’s a short-term issue and they put it behind them. Companies have growing pains or challenges but at the same time, they have to take this seriously and they have to take these issues head-on.”

Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff sits down with Yahoo Finance’s Nicole Sinclair at Dreamforce 2017
Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff sits down with Yahoo Finance’s Nicole Sinclair at Dreamforce 2017

CEOs need to speak up to social issues

Meanwhile, Benioff said there is more pressure for companies to speak out on important issues that go beyond the core business.

In fact, he began his most recent quarterly conference call in August, addressing the racism and violence in Charlottesville that month.

“I think CEOs have no choice but to become more activist in their leadership and the reason why is their employees demand it, especially their millennial employees,” Benioff said. “They demand that their CEOs represent them. That’s why you see us fighting for LGBTQ equality or more diversity of inclusion or gender equality and for the environment.”

Nicole Sinclair is markets correspondent at Yahoo Finance

For more on the interview with Marc Benioff, please see:
Marc Benioff: We can’t leave anyone behind during the ‘fourth industrial revolution’

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