Briefing

In leaked audio, Facebook CEO vows to ‘go to the mat’ to fight government efforts to break up Facebook

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The two-hour recordings capture open Q&As that Mark Zuckerberg conducted with employees in July and, while the mood is light, he rails against the prospect of the U.S. government trying to break up the FAANG. A particular target is U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who’s seeking the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. He also said it “doesn’t make sense” for him to attend every government meeting to which he’s called. (The Verge)

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Talking point: Facebook is trying to bounce back from a prolonged period of bad press. It’s faced extensive criticism for its role in spreading disinformation that sways voter sentiment during elections; Zuckerberg himself has refused multiple requests to appear at meetings with global regulators, including next month in Dublin; and the company’s new Libra cryptocurrency has alarmed central bankers. In these meetings, Zuckerberg—who holds 58 per cent of voting control at the firm—answered employees’ questions on everything from plans to launch a TikTok competitor to the emotional abuse allegedly suffered by content moderators. But his strongest words addressed a potential Warren presidency. Should a Warren administration try to break up the company, Zuckerberg said Facebook would launch a legal fight to fend off the “existential” threat, though having to do so would “suck.” The leak could raise fresh questions about the proven power Facebook has to influence the democratic process, and the extent to which it should be trusted to self-regulate. Warren herself responded shortly after the story broke, reaffirming her willingness to break up Big Tech companies.