Leaked audio from internal Facebook meetings feature CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking trash about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Twitter, and rallying employees against critics.
(Read the entire transcripts from two meetings here).
Speaking to nervous employees, Zuckerberg addressed calls by 2020 presidential candidates for Facebook to be broken up, answered questions about strong resistance from regulators around the globe concerning the company’s Libra cryptocurrency, and shared why he’s refused multiple requests to testify in Europe.
According to The Verge, which obtained two hours of audio from the July meetings, notes that Zuckerberg uses language “that is often more candid than he typically uses in his public comments.”
On the potential breakup of Facebook
“You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies … 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. … 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 on Tuesday, tweeting “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.”
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
On how Big Tech can “solve the issues”
“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.”
“…and why Twitter can’t”
“It’s why Twitter can’t do as good of a job as we can. 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.” [laughter]
Twitter communications head Brandon Borrman replied to this – tweeting “It’s not about money, it’s about getting the work done and solving problems for the people we serve. Mark clearly thinks differently. Keeping people safe and secure is in our shared interest as an industry and we ALL have more to do.”
It's not about money, it's about getting the work done and solving problems for the people we serve. Mark clearly thinks differently. Keeping people safe and secure is in our shared interest as an industry and we ALL have more to do. https://t.co/Wtg58QBSvk
— Brandon Borrman (@bborrman) October 1, 2019
On refusing to testify before other governments
“I’m not going to go to every single hearing around the world. A lot of different people want to do that. When the issues came up last year around Cambridge Analytica, I did hearings in the US. I did hearings in the EU. It just doesn’t really make sense for me to go to hearings in every single country that wants to have me show up.”
On Libra’s rocky rollout
“The public things, I think, tend to be a little more dramatic. But a bigger part of it is private engagement with regulators around the world, and those, I think, often, are more substantive and less dramatic. And those meetings aren’t being played for the camera, but that’s where a lot of the discussions and details get hashed out on things.”
On protecting (PTSD-stricken) contract content moderators who engage in sex and drug use to cope with the horrors of constant beheading videos and other graphic content.
“Some of the reports, I think, are a little overdramatic. From digging into them and understanding what’s going on, it’s not that most people are just looking at just terrible things all day long. But there are really bad things that people have to deal with, and making sure that people get the right counseling and space and ability to take breaks and get the mental health support that they need is a really important thing.”
On competing with TikTok
“We have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico … We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.”
Zuckerberg has responded to the leaked audio, saying in a Facebook post: “Every week I do a Q&A at Facebook where employees get to ask me anything and I share 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.”