In the recordings, Zuckerberg says he is prepared to sue the federal government or any other U.S. regulators that try to break up Facebook. He specifically addresses Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) promise to break up big tech companies if she becomes president.
“If [Warren] 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,” Zuckerberg says in the audio recording. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government.”
Warren fired back in a tweet early Tuesday saying, “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
The Facebook stock slid about 1.2% on Tuesday morning following the release of the audio. Neither Facebook nor Warren was immediately available for comment. Forbes will update this story if we hear back.
The Massachusetts senator has for months openly challenged Facebook’s business practices and its use of mergers to limit competition. Warren has also promised to appoint regulators committed to reversing what she calls “illegal and anti-competitive” tech mergers such as Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram if she is elected president.
“Today’s big tech companies have too much power—too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” she wrote in a Medium blog post in March outlining her plan to break up big tech companies. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”
Zuckerberg argues later in the Q&A that large tech corporations are in a unique position to help remedy some of the nefarious behavior on their networks. “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 says. “And, you know, it doesn't make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can't coordinate and work together.”
The Verge has published several snippets of audio if you want to hear Zuckerberg explain in his own words. The 35-year-old billionaire also answered questions about looming competition from TikTok and why he believes Twitter can’t do as good a job as Facebook when it comes to solving big societal issues. “Our investment in safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company,” he says.
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