October 3, 2019
In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren debuted her plan to break up big tech companies, from Amazon to Facebook. Her campaign paid for a billboard in San Francisco with the message in capital letters. Now, almost seven months later, leaked audiotapes reveal what Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg thinks about her plans. In the tapes, Zuckerberg tells employees that, “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.”
The New York Times reports that, in the tapes first released by The Verge, Zuckerberg added, “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.”
In response, Warren doubled down on her criticism, stating the need to “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.”
Also heard in the tapes, Zuckerberg “ties his criticism of Warren’s plan to concerns about election interference.” “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, 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.”
Later, Zuckerberg wrote about the episode in a Facebook post, and Warren “used the renewed focus on the issue as an opportunity to reiterate that she is ‘not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable’.”
Warren opined that “the tech giants have essentially developed monopolies … [and] call[ed] for legislation that would prohibit platforms like Amazon from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.” She would also like to appoint regulators to rollback some tech mergers as well as undoing acquisitions, such as Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram.
“I’m sick of freeloading billionaires,” she said.
Here’s the link to The Verge’s transcript of the Zuckerberg comments to employees.