Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

Washington/Bengaluru  — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees in July he expected that the company would face an effort to break up the world’s largest social media company if Democrat Elizabeth Warren were elected US president, according to audio of two internal company meetings from July published by The Verge.

“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,” he said, according to audio posted by the Verge.

This brought a swift retort from Warren, who, in March, called for breaking up Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet (which owns Google).

“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,” Warren tweeted.

Facebook declined to comment on Tuesday.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an open anti-trust investigation into Facebook and a group of state attorneys-general led by New York is also investigating.

Another senior Facebook executive told Reuters earlier this month that the company is confident it would defeat an effort to break-up the company. Zuckerberg also said “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 co-ordinate and work together.”

Facebook has come under criticism for not doing more to prevent Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Zuckerberg was on Capitol Hill in September for the first time since April 2018 when he testified before US Congress. He also met with President Donald Trump. He recently spurned a request to testify before a US Senate panel and explained in July why he often skips public testimony.

He told employees, “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.”