Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been in a lot of hot water lately amid concerns his social media behemoth is too big for its own good, and on Tuesday leaked audio shows he is ready for a legal battle with Democratic primary hopeful Elizabeth Warren over plans to break up big tech companies if she is elected president in 2020.
The Verge published two hours worth of audio from open meetings between Zuckerberg and Facebook employees where the CEO addressed a range of issues including Warren’s plans to break up big tech and the headwinds Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, is facing.
When faced with the hypothetical Warren presidency, Zuckerberg said he “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,” he continued. “I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. 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 fight.”
Warren turned Zuckerberg’s words against him in a tweet after the audio dropped saying “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.”
Zuckerberg argues in the leaked audio that breaking up companies like Facebook or Google isn’t going to solve anything.
“It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues,” he said. “And … it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.”
The Federal Trade Commission slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but the company still faces a litany of other claims and demands for testimony surrounding data privacy issues and other shady dealings.
Zuckerberg has been grilled over his decision to not testify to other foreign governments on some of these claims, and in the leaked audio he tried to explain his reasoning.
“It just doesn’t make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up,” he said.
Later Tuesday, Warren, who seems to have a plan for everything, released a lengthy Twitter string that broke down her plans for Big Tech and “why it’s got Mark Zuckerberg so worked up.”
In the string, Warren called Zuckerberg out for saying Facebook is “more like a government than a traditional company,” and says the social media giant has “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit” and “undermined our democracy.”
She went on to describe her “Break Up Big Tech” plan that “would undo their illegal, anticompetitive mergers,” and described an idealistic world where “they’ll have to compete with each other to make a better product for you.”
Imagine Facebook and Instagram trying to outdo each other to protect your privacy and keep misinformation out of your feed, instead of working together to sell your data, inundate you with misinformation, and undermine our election security. That’s why we need to #BreakUpBigTech.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019