Ex-Yahoo exec Susan Decker: Trust is eroding in Silicon Valley, and leaders need to get ahead of it

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Trust is eroding in Silicon Valley, according to former Yahoo executive Susan Decker — and tech leaders need to get ahead of the trend.

“You have a combination of things that are eroding the trust in Silicon Valley. You have the privacy issues, you have the fake news, you have concerns about addiction to devices,” Decker told CNBC’s Becky Quick on Friday.

“If Silicon Valley doesn’t take those on and work to restore that trust by proactively doing things to help the consumers understand how their data is being used and help them opt out, I think regulation may happen,” Decker said.

Silicon Valley companies have faced heightened scrutiny in recent months amid reports of widespread data mishandling on Facebook.

“In the offline world when we think about privacy, it’s easy to know what to do — you speak in hushed tones or you close your shades or you close your door,” Decker said. “But online, people don’t really know what companies have — what sort of information they have — how they’re using it and what the consequences are.”

Decker’s former company, Yahoo, suffered two massive data breaches in 2013 and 2014. The company — now under the name Altaba — was fined $35 million last month for the breaches.

Decker now runs Raftr, an online platform for conversation similar to Reddit or Twitter.

“For these advertising-based businesses, which are essentially in the business of selling user attention, as opposed to a good or service directly, it’s critical that they have that information and that they have the opportunity to target market with it,” she said.

Decker spoke on “Squawk Box” from Omaha, Nebraska, a day before Berkshire Hathaway‘s annual shareholder meeting. She’s on the Berkshire board.

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