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Zuckerberg says a Warren presidency would be an ‘existential’ threat to Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) an “existential” threat to his company, said Twitter can’t deal with election interference, and expressed confidence about the social network’s legal battles in the new leaked audio. 

The Verge released audio obtained from Facebook company meetings from July, where Zuckerberg spoke to his employees about the many issues the social media giant is facing. He said that the push among Democrats like Warren to break up big tech companies would “suck” for Facebook, but that it would eventually emerge victorious from any legal battles.

“So there might be a political movement where people are angry at the tech companies or are worried about concentration or worried about different issues and worried that they’re not being handled well. That doesn’t mean that, even if there’s anger and that you have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies,” Zuckerberg said. “I mean, 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?,” he continues. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re, you know, I mean … it’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. 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.”

Warren tweeted a direct response to Zuckerberg’s comments on Tuesday, saying that companies like Facebook need to be fixed.

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.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019

Zuckerberg went on to say that breaking up Big Tech isn’t necessarily the answer and that doing so would make election interference more likely. He said that the work Facebook has done to limit hate speech has been better than other companies’ efforts — largely due to its size.

“It’s why Twitter can’t do as good of a job as we can. I mean, they face, qualitatively, the same types of issues. But they can’t put in the investment. Our investment on safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company. [laughter]”

On the criticism of his power over Facebook, Zuckerberg said: “So one of the things that I’ve been lucky about in building this company is, you know, I kind of have voting control of the company, and that’s something I focused on early on. And it was important because, without that, there were several points where I would’ve been fired. For sure, for sure…”

Facebook is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over whether or not Facebook tried to acquire its social media rivals before they would become a threat to its business, specifically platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. In the leaked audio, Zuckerberg’s discussed plans to take on TikTok, one of Facebook’s biggest rivals among younger audiences.

“So we have a number of approaches that we’re going to take towards this, and we have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones,” he says. “We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.”

And, Zuckerberg spoke to Facebook employees about the Libra rollout and the issues the platform has faced in trying to create its own cryptocurrency, adding that the government isn’t going to like what’s to come. 

“I actually wouldn’t be surprised if we end up having similar engagements like this on other socially important things that we’re trying to move, like our big push to get towards more encryption across our messaging apps. That will, over time, be very sensitive when we get closer to rolling it out. Law enforcement, obviously, is not going to be psyched about that.”

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook and to Warren’s campaign for comment, and we’ll update the story once we hear back. 

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