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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he would “go to the mat” and “fight” against Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren who has threatened to breakup his social-media empire.
Read: Billionaire investor on Elizabeth Warren as president: Market might not even open
On Tuesday, The Verge published text and leaked audio it says was from a recent internal meetings at the Menlo Park, Calif-based tech behemoth, where Zuckerberg fielded questions amid a barrage of antitrust probes and calls for the company to split itself up. Here’s an excerpt from Zuckerberg’s remarks:
|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. 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, 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 you fight.|
The Massachusetts Democrat and presidential hopeful for 2020 has been at the epicenter of calls to break up technology giants like Facebook Inc. FB, -1.18%, as well as Google-parent Alphabet Inc. GOOG, -0.89% GOOGL, -1.02% and Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.12%.
Warren has pledged that if she’s elected president in 2020, she would split up the big technology companies:
“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else,” she wrote in a March 8 blog post on Medium.
On Tuesday, she fired back at the reports about Zuckerberg via Twitter, saying:
“What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
She said that she’s not “afraid to hold Big Tech companies” accountable:
Check out: Survey of investors shows growing anxiety over Elizabeth Warren’s rise in presidential polls
Zuckerberg, for his part, has attempted to get ahead of attempts to breakup Facebook by promoting stiffer regulation of technology companies, including his social-media platform. Late last month, Zuckerberg made a surprise visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers, after failing to make an appearance at congressional hearings about the company’s role in influencing the surprise outcome of the 2016 presidential election won by President Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In Verge’s audio, Zuckerberg makes the case that breaking up big technology companies won’t achieve lawmakers desired antitrust ends and may actually exacerbate problems: “It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues. 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.”
Shares of Facebook were down 1% on Tuesday but have gained 34% so far in 2019 and 8.4% over the past 12 months. That’s better than the broad-market S&P 500 index SPX, -1.03% which has gained 17.8% so far this year and logged a roughly 1% gain over the past year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.08% has gained 14.3% thus far in 2019 but has been flat over the past year, according to FactSet data.
An email to Facebook wasn’t immediately returned.