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Salesforce's Benioff on why governments are 'going to take action' vs Facebook

Salesforce (CRM) co-CEO Marc Benioff believes the government will step in and "make changes" in Facebook (FB), as the social network takes heat over its policies amid multiple probes.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Benioff doubled down on his critique that the social media giant is as harmful as cigarettes. He first made that comparison at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light.

"[You] can see Facebook has, in many ways, become the new cigarettes. It's not good for you. They're addictive. They need to be regulated heavily. They came out and said they don't care about truth in advertising," Benioff said on the sidelines of the ‘Dreamforce’ annual conference in San Francisco.

More recently, the social network has come under fire for its political advertising policy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out strongly against trying to moderate political content, but a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday suggested the company may rethink that stance.

Benioff added that their problems were “their own creation. Instead of them being proactive and taking care of their own issues, they're waiting for the government to come in and take care of it,” he said.

“And not just the U.S. government, European and Asian, and Latin American governments are all going to take action against Facebook because of what they're doing and the behaviors that you can see. So that's a wake-up call for everybody that is trust your highest priority,” the CEO added.

Support for government regulation of tech

Marc Benioff attends the 2019 Time 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

After making headlines in Davos, Benioff's wife jokingly started calling him "the regulator," he wrote in his book, “Trailblazer.” The outspoken CEO has called for more regulation of big tech.

Specifically, he's a supporter of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, and the new California Data Protection Act.

"One thing that I think is so important is if we want more trust in those companies is 100% transparency. 'How is that data being used? Where is it going?'" he said, adding that it's "extremely important" that the U.S. implement a national data privacy law.

"The government needs to act. This is something that we need to protect in all states and all consumers and children, not just here in California,” Benioff said.

And the father of two praised the work of Common Sense Media and other organizations around its guidelines for the use of technology by kids.

"You can see Common Sense Media has really laid out what is the best media on the net. How should we operate with that media? What are the standards for screen time? These are things that we need to all become educated on."

He also gave a nod to Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) for using operating systems that give parents more control and awareness of screen time on user accounts.

"This is going to be so important for our future. And the final thing is there's no excuse not to be aware of what everyone in your household is doing with technology,” he said. “You have to be involved."

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo FinanceFollow her on Twitter.

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