Warren slams Facebook for 'refusing to protect our democracy' after Zuckerberg audio leaks


CEO Mark Zuckerberg came under fire this week for comments he made about the Massachusetts senator.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Tuesday slammed Facebook for "repeatedly fumbl[ing] their responsibility to protect our democracy" after audio surfaced of CEO Mark Zuckerberg defending unethical practices and remarking on what might happen if she were ever to become president.

The Verge first published the audio of Zuckerberg's remarks, which was recorded during employee meetings in July, on Tuesday morning.

Noting their outsized effect on global culture and finance, Warren, who is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been calling for major tech companies, like Facebook, to be broken up and further regulated. In the recording, Zuckerberg lashed out at that notion.

"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," Zuckerberg said. "And does that still suck for us? Yeah."

Warren later responded to that comment on Twitter.

"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 wrote Tuesday morning.

Zuckerberg is also heard in the audio minimizing concerns about those contracted by his company to moderate content. Recent reports have revealed, in detail, the mental trauma some of those contractors have experienced while weeding out depraved content like murder footage that has made it way onto the Facebook platform.

"Some of the reports, I think, are a little overdramatic," Zuckerberg says. "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."

In the audio, Zuckerberg also discusses an upcoming product called "Lasso" that the company hopes to use to fend off the popular app TikTok. Facebook's tactic of using its outsized power in the marketplace to tilt the playing field in its favor has been a frequent topic of discussion over the last few years and antitrust concerns have been raised.

Facebook has been scrutinized heavily since it was revealed not long after the 2016 election that it had played an unwitting role in foreign efforts to influence voters and had violated users' privacy. In the months and years that followed, the company faced a roller coaster performance, watching as its shares plummeted dramatically earlier this year before seeing its stock rise in July after reporting better-than-expected earnings and revenue.

That same month, Facebook reached a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for failing to protect user data, the second-largest fine ever issued by the FTC. It was also fined €1.49 billion by the European Union in March for abusive advertising practices.

In late September, Zuckerberg met with Trump in the Oval Office as part of a public relations effort to dissuade congressional attempts to regulate the company.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.