Zuckerberg says Facebook could sue US gov’t and win if Elizabeth Warren becomes president

Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired back at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after leaked audio comments he made about suing the U.S. government if she became president.

The Massachusetts Democrat accused Facebook of “illegal anti-competitive practices,” an abuse of privacy, and failing to protect democracy in a tweet following the release of the audio of Zuckerberg and the transcript published in The Verge.

(File photo: screenshot)

The Facebook chief’s comments, including that it would “suck” to get embroiled in a legal battle with the government, were captured during Q&A sessions with employees during internal meetings in July.

In response to one employee’s question, Zuckerberg said there “might be a political movement where people are angry at the tech companies or are worried about concentration.”

“That doesn’t mean that, even if there’s anger and that you have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies,” he said.

“I mean, 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,” he continued.

“And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re, you know,” Zuckerberg said. “I mean … It’s like, 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 fight.”

The 35-year-old billionaire also noted that the company’s large size makes it more effective in combating issues like safety and interference.

“It’s why Twitter can’t do as good of a job as we can,” Zuckerberg said. “I mean, they face, qualitatively, the same types of issues. But they can’t put in the investment. Our investment on safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company.”

Zuckerberg, who met with President Trump and other lawmakers last month, addressed the leaked audio and transcript in a comment on Tuesday, explaining that he often shares “openly what I’m thinking on all kinds of projects and issues.”

“The transcript from one of my Q&As a few months ago just got published online — and 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 like social responsibility, breaking up tech companies, Libra, neural computing interfaces, and doing the right thing over the long term,” he wrote on Facebook.

Warren responded to Zuckerberg on Twitter, declaring that the “corrupt system” needs to be fixed.

The 2020 Democratic contender added in another tweet that she is “not afraid” of taking on “Big Tech” companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, and linked to a section of her campaign website that outlines her plan to break up what she sees as monopolies.

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” the proposed plan reads. “That’s why my administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition — including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.”

“Let’s talk a bit about my plan to #BreakUpBigTech and why it’s got Mark Zuckerberg so worked up,” she added in one of several tweets about the issue on Tuesday.

Warren pressed the point about corporations using their power to “undermine our democracy.”

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also got into the pile-up, calling out Facebook’s “reckless behavior” as a “threat.”

Zuckerberg addressed the futility of breaking up larger companies in an effort to combat issues like safety, security, and corruption during one of the meetings.

“It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues,” he said.

“And, you know, it doesn’t make election interference less likely,” he added. ‘”It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together. It doesn’t make any of the hate speech or issues like that less likely. It makes it more likely because now… all the processes that we’re putting in place and investing in, now we’re more fragmented.”

The Facebook CEO met with Trump in the Oval Office and lawmakers on Capitol Hill last month.

Sen. Josh Hawley noted that Zuckerberg did not agree with a plan to show he was “serious about bias, privacy & competition” by selling WhatsApp and Instagram, something Warren has been pressing for.

Frieda Powers

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