On Tuesday, The Verge published the leaked transcript of a two-hour audio recording of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg participating in a Q&A with employees over the summer. In it, Zuckerberg speaks candidly about Facebook's attempts to make its own cryptocurrency and the competition posed by TikTok. But the most attention-grabbing comments he made were about Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Speaking about the souring public opinion of massive tech companies, Zuckerberg said:
So there might be a political movement where people are angry at the tech companies or are worried about concentration or worried about different issues and worried that they’re not being handled well. That doesn’t mean that, even if there’s anger and that you have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies ... 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.
Earlier this year, Warren published a post on the website Medium titled, "Here’s how we can break up Big Tech,", in which she lays out a plan for heavily regulating companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. In it, she writes that "we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor."
Silicon Valley isn't alone in worrying about the implications of a Warren White House. Both Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders remain the only Democratic presidential candidates to make raising taxes on the rich a high campaign priority, and as Warren rises in the polls executives in the financial industry seem to be getting nervous. Last week, CNBC reported that many Democratic donors with ties to Wall Street were willing to either withhold funds or back Donald Trump if Warren eventually became the nominee. Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money, made the same claim earlier in September, saying that executives were wary of Warren after her aggressive questioning of then-Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan in 2017. And the richest 15 people in the country stand to lose hundreds of billions of dollars under Warren's proposed wealth tax.
As for tech titans, Warren responded to Zuckerberg's comments that her potential presidency would "suck" for Facebook. On Twitter Tuesday morning, she wrote, "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."
Julia Ioffe joins Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail, where the surging senator has spent the season overcoming her campaign's wobbly start and getting down to business—trouncing debate foes, climbing in the polls, and somehow making a slew of policy plans feel exciting. Suddenly, she's winning over Democrats by making the grandest ideas sound perfectly sensible, including her biggest pitch of all: That she's the one to beat Trump.
Originally Appeared on GQ