Why Elizabeth Warren Is Going To War With Facebook

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Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren, US Presidential Election Campaigning, New York, USA – 16 Sep 2019
Washington Square Park

As Elizabeth Warren ramps up her campaign to break up big tech one company is preparing for battle. According to leaked recordings from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Massachusetts senator’s plan to undo mergers between tech giants won’t go down without a major fight from his camp. Meanwhile, theDemocratic presidential candidate, who is running on a policy-driven platform, tweeted yesterday that she won’t back down from Zuckerberg’s threats, creating a potential war between Facebook and the U.S. government if she’s elected in 2020.

“If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge,” Mark Zuckerberg announced in a leaked recording addressing Facebook employees. “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’s plan to “Break Up Big Tech” was fueled in large part after she orchestrated a massive campaign billboard with her face on it in the middle of Silicon Valley. Now, she is making good on her promise after launching a proposed plan that targets Facebook, Amazon, Google, and a number of major tech giants. The plan of attack, which she introduced in early 2019, detailed a way to break up the monopoly of big tech companies. But it struck a major nerve with Zuckerberg. 

According to recordings acquired by the Verve, Zuckerberg says it would “suck” to be in a legal war with the United States government, but it’s one he is fully prepared for if Warren is elected. 

After hearing the recordings for herself, Warren jumped right back into the conversation with a series of tweets yesterday, illustrating her proposal (and demonstrating that she is definitely not backing down from the Facebook CEO’s idle threats). 

“What would really “suck” is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices,” Warren tweeted. “I’m not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable. It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech.”

Facebook is doing pretty well right now. They’ve acquired potential competitors WhatsApp and Instagram. More than 85% of all social networking traffic goes through sites owned or operated by Facebook. They’ve got a lot of power—and face little competition or accountability.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019

But what exactly is Warren proposing that’s scaring Zuckerberg into company-wide announcements like this? According to her plan, Warren wants to break up mergers between major tech companies that monopolize a specific sphere of the industry. For example, she doesn’t want to see huge companies like Google or Apple taking over every part  of the tech scene, which is basically the direction we’ve been heading in for over a decade. But, according to Warren, her efforts to take down “Big Tech” serve a greater purpose: to protect user information from being shared across multiple platforms owned by the same company (i.e. Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp). 

Imagine Facebook and Instagram trying to outdo each other to protect your privacy and keep misinformation out of your feed, instead of working together to sell your data, inundate you with misinformation, and undermine our election security. That’s why we need to #BreakUpBigTech.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019

For Facebook, this would mean dividing up the company’s brands, which include Instagram and WhatsApp to “promote healthy competition in the market.” Warren’s greater initiative to break up the tech giants isn’t so far-fetched, either — according to a poll last month, almost two-thirds of Americans are on board with this overall plan if it means more privacy for users and a leveled playing field for online content. 

But just as Warren is pleading to force Facebook to relinquish ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg is gearing up for an all out war under a Warren administration. The CEO backed up his own leaked recordings in a Facebook post yesterday, urging people to read his now-public comments and decide for themselves where they stand in the war against big tech.

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