Mark Zuckerberg to Elizabeth Warren: bring it on.
Facebook’s head honcho is ready to fight back against any politician looking to break up the social network, including Warren, one of Silicon Valley’s loudest critics in Washington, D.C., according to leaked audio obtained by The Verge and released on Tuesday.
“If she gets elected president,” Zuckerberg said about Warren, according to The Verge, “then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.”
The recording comes from an open meeting for Facebook employees in July, the site stated.
Earlier this year, Warren compared the current tech landscape to a modern day Gilded Age, where smaller companies are unable to compete with the major players. The Democratic hopeful for president proposed breaking up Facebook, Amazon and Google in March, saying “we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.” Warren’s relationship with Facebook grew even icier soon after, when Facebook briefly pulled her ads calling for the company’s breakup.
Despite Zuckerberg’s confidence that Facebook would beat an antitrust lawsuit from the government, he said it would “still suck.”
“I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government,” Zuckerberg continued in the leaked audio. “That’s not the position you want to be in. 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 responded to Zuckerberg via Twitter soon after The Verge’s story posted. “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,” she tweeted.
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. https://t.co/rI0v55KKAi
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019
Later in the day, the Massachusetts congresswoman tweeted her plan to breakup Facebook. “You’ll still be able to use Facebook and Instagram to catch up with your friends and family and share photos of your dog. But they’ll have to compete with each other to make a better product for you.”
Warren isn’t the only powerful person coming after Facebook, however. The company is facing several antitrust probes, including one from the U.S. Justice Department. 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 recently told TheWrap 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.”