Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he’s “absolutely” for more government regulation of major tech companies — but doesn’t believe breaking up Facebook, as some prominent politicians have called for this year, would fix much of anything.
Zuckerberg made his comments in the latest excerpt of his interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King that aired on Tuesday.
He acknowledged there are “real issues” that come with running a giant social media company, before adding: “a lot of people are upset and are talking about measures like breaking up the company … that aren’t actually going to fix these issues, right? I mean, breaking up Facebook isn’t going to address the question of political discourse.”
Zuckerberg’s focus on political discourse comes after the company has been skewered by many of its critics for its decision to not fact-check its political ads. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen recently ripped Facebook for the stance, joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren in criticizing Facebook’s political ad policy. Zuckerberg reiterated to King this week something he’s said several times in the last few months: he believes it’s better to have Facebook’s users decide what is and isn’t true in political ads, rather than the company.
Sen. Warren has also called for breaking up Facebook, Amazon and other tech stalwarts if she’s elected president next year. The company’s critics have complained Facebook’s $1 billion buyout of Instagram and its $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp have helped the company create a social media juggernaut — and block any competitors from rising up in the process.
Despite the added pressure from lawmakers and regulators, antitrust experts told TheWrap earlier this year that the breakup of major tech firms is anything but a sure thing. Penn State antitrust professor John Lopatka said there are “two necessary ingredients” that would be needed to take action against a company like Facebook: Not only does there have to be proof Facebook is a monopoly, but you’d also have to show Facebook extended its monopoly “through anti-competitive conduct.”
“We can assume Facebook has monopoly power in the social media platform market, but that’s not enough,” he continued. “You still have to prove it acquired or maintains that power through anti-competitive power, and I don’t know any reason to believe that’s the case.”
Zuckerberg, in his interview with King, said he’s “absolutely” in favor of more government regulation. When asked if “one person, or one company” should have “that much power,” Zuckerberg said “the basic answer to what you’re saying is ‘no,’” before adding “private companies should not be in the position of making so many important decisions, balancing different social values that we all care about.” But breaking up Facebook to get to that point is a bridge too far, in his view.