Leaked Audio Reveals How Zuckerberg Really Feels

The Facebook CEO says he'll 'go to the mat and fight' Elizabeth Warren
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2019 12:28 PM CDT
Zuckerberg Calls One Candidate an 'Existential' Threat
In this April 10, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Mark Zuckerberg takes one look at Elizabeth Warren and sees an existential threat—at least according to leaked audio of him in a Q&A with Facebook employees. "You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies," the Facebook CEO said in one of two July meetings that the Verge obtained audio of. "If she gets elected president, then I 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 fight." Among other excerpts from the two hours of audio:

  • Breaking up Big Tech: "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."
  • Twitter, for example: "It's why Twitter can't do as good of a job as we can. ... They can't put in the investment. Our investment on safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company."

  • On sometimes refusing to testify: "It just doesn't really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up and, frankly, doesn't have jurisdiction to demand that. But people are going to use the position of the company and me to criticize us. I think that that's, to some degree, that's like a normal thing that we just need to deal with and expect that that’s going to happen."
  • On criticism of Libra, Facebook's cryptocurrency: "Part of the process is going to be public ... 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."
  • On content moderators suffering possible ill health: "It's not that most people are just looking at just terrible things all day long. But there are really bad things that people have to deal with, and making sure that people get the right counseling and space and ability to take breaks and get the mental health support that they need is a really important thing."
  • CNBC's take: "While Zuckerberg's answers ... come off as more casual and sometimes jocular takes on his public remarks, the fact that two hours of internal dealings leaked to the press is significant" in light of the damage control the company has regularly had to engage in over the last 18 months post-Cambridge Analytica.
  • Zuckerberg's response: He shares the Verge link in a non-defensive Facebook post, which reads in part, "Even though it was meant to be internal rather than public, now that it's out there, you can check it out if you're interested in seeing an unfiltered version of what I'm thinking and telling employees on a bunch of topics."
  • Warren's response: The Democratic candidate took to Twitter to say "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."
See the full transcript at the Verge. (Or look at a big change made by Facebook.)

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