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Zuckerberg says he will fight any Facebook breakup

October 2, 2019

Facebook's CEO has said that while fighting a government-led breakup of the social media giant would "suck," he expects to win any legal battle. US lawmakers have been calling for stricter oversight and accountability.

Mark Zuckerberg meets lawmakers in Washington on September 19
Image: Reuters/A. Drago

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg told employees he will "go to the mat" to prevent any government break-up of the social media giant, as it faces an US anti-trust investigation andcalls from lawmakers for more oversight.

Zuckerberg made the comments during a meeting in July, and a leaked audio recording of it was published Tuesday on tech website The Verge.

In the recording, Zuckerberg specifically mentions a plan to break up Facebook by Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Warren is a vocal critic of Facebook's market dominance and has announced a plan to "break up big tech," which would "undo illegal and anti-competitive mergers" and compel tech companies to "compete with each other to make a better product."

Read moreFacebook suspends tens of thousands of apps over privacy concerns

Warren responds

"If she [Warren] 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. I mean, I don't want to have a major lawsuit against our own government," said Zuckerberg. 

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg rejects call from US lawmaker to break up Facebook

"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."

After Zuckerberg's comments were leaked, Warren promptly responded on Twitter. 

"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, [and] stomp on consumer privacy rights."

More accountability for Facebook

Regulators around the world are scrutinizing Facebook over data sharing and allowing the spread of misinformation leading to election interference. 

In the leaked audio, Zuckerberg said that breaking up big tech companies would likely lead to more election interference because "companies can't coordinate and work together." 

However, Zuckerberg's assertion is unlikely to convince detractors like Warren. 

Read more: Facebook exempts politicians' posts from fact-checking

"More than 85% of all social networking traffic goes through sites owned or operated by Facebook," she wrote. "They've got a lot of power— and face little competition or accountability," said the US Senator. 

"They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, undermined our democracy, and tilted the playing field against everyone else."

Zuckerberg addressed the leak on his Facebook page, saying the comments came from a weekly "ask me anything" session and posted the transcript with his "unfiltered" thoughts including on "doing the right thing over the long term."

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wmr/se (Reuters, AFP)