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Zuckerberg talks Warren's "existential" breakup threat in leaked audio

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg candidly addressed a number of questions about his company, such as the threat of a government breakup of Big Tech companies from 2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren, during an open meeting with employees, per leaked audio obtained by the Verge.

"You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies ... 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.
"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 you fight."

The other side: Warren responded to Zuckerberg's leaked comments, tweeting, "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."

The big picture: Facebook had a few recent wins after settling cases with regulators and posting solid quarterly earnings. "But inside the company, the mood remains anxious" about its future, writes the Verge.

  • The company is at the center of the Big Tech backlash with calls to regulate it or break it up, most notably from Warren. Zuckerberg toured D.C. recently to meet with top lawmakers.

What Zuckerberg is saying: In the audio, he joked repeatedly that he would've been fired as CEO a long time ago if he hadn't negotiated for control of the company.

  • On breaking up Big Tech: "It's just that breaking up these companies, whether it's Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues. 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."
  • On declining to testify in other countries: "When the issues came up last year around Cambridge Analytica, I did hearings in the U.S. I did hearings in the EU. It just doesn't really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up."
  • On Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project: "The public things, I think, tend to be a little more dramatic. But a bigger part of it is private engagement with regulators around the world, and those, I think, often, are more substantive and less dramatic. And those meetings aren't being played for the camera, but that's where a lot of the discussions and details get hashed out on things."

Go deeper: Top regulators battle to crack down on Big Tech giants