Leaked audio of Mark Zuckerberg admitting the prospect of an Elizabeth Warren presidency could “suck” for the firm
The political views of Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have been revealed in leaked audio of an open meeting with Facebook staff in July this year.
The comments came when Zuckerberg defended calls for Facebook to be broken up, after it was forced to pay a record fine for a number of privacy scandals. FTC Chairman Joe Simons has previously said he is prepared to break up major technology platforms if necessary by undoing their past mergers.
And in May this year Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the firm he helped create to be broken up as it has become (in his view) too powerful.
But the stakes were raised in June when democratic senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren who has previously warned that tech companies “have too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”
Senator Warren had in March called for the breakup of big name tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.
The Verge then obtained audio of Mark Zuckerberg speaking during an open meeting with Facebook staff in July.
“You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies,” Zuckerberg said the meeting. “If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah.”
“But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight,” Zuckerberg reportedly said.
Zuckerberg comments came in the same month when Facebook agreed to pay an unprecedented $5 billion penalty in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its handling of users’ personal data.
And it seems that the comments are authentic, after Zuckerberg acknowledged the authenticity of the comments in a Facebook post.
“Every week I do a Q&A at Facebook where employees get to ask me anything and I share openly what I’m thinking on all kinds of projects and issues,” wrote Zuckerberg. “The transcript from one of my Q&As a few months ago just got published online – and even though it was meant to be internal rather than public, now that it’s out there, you can check it out if you’re interested in seeing an unfiltered version of what I’m thinking and telling employees on a bunch of topics like social responsibility, breaking up tech companies, Libra, neural computing interfaces, and doing the right thing over the long term.”
Zuckerberg then provided a link to the Verge article.
Senator Warren quickly hit out at Zuckerberg, after his comments were made public.
“What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy,” she tweeted.
The breakup furore comes after the FTC opened an antitrust investigation into Facebook. A group of state attorneys general led by New York is also investigating the firm.