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Netflix’s Hastings Says Tech Companies Are Trying To Grow Up

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Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix and Facebook board member, said over the weekend that Facebook and other social media companies are “trying to grow up quickly,” and that it’s the case with all new technologies.

Speaking at the TED conference which was covered by Recode, Hasting likened it to television, which first hit the markets in the 1960s. Back then it was called a “vast wasteland and television was going to rock the minds of everybody,” said Hastings, noting that everyone’s minds were OK nevertheless. “So I think of it as: all new technologies have pros and cons. And in social, we’re just figuring that out,” said the Netflix executive. He did note that he doesn’t think Facebook is being “completely unfairly” criticized. Facebook’s executives, said Hastings, are taking the data scandal very seriously, and so is the board of the social media company. In March the board announced their support for Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as they dealt with the latest data scandal plaguing the company.

On Friday (April 13) Facebook announced that Hasting’s board seat is up for renewal at the company’s shareholder meeting. There has been some speculation, reported Recode, that Hastings could step away from Facebook as the two companies start to compete more against each other. Facebook has been increasing its efforts on the video front, spending more to lure original shows to its platform. Netflix, meanwhile, is spending billions on its own original content as it — along with Amazon, Hulu and now Disney — battle it out for streaming service supremacy.

Facebook has been reeling ever since it revealed Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting company that worked on President Donald Trump’s election bid, accessed the data of 87 million users without their consent. That has sparked a series of investigations and resulted in Zuckerberg testifying before Congress last week. Expectations are growing that Facebook and other technology companies will face increased regulations aimed at better protecting consumers’ data.

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