Mark Zuckerberg and Elizabeth Warren are clashing over her plan to break up the tech titans — a war of words that could test the limits of Silicon Valley’s liberal leanings.
The Facebook CEO was caught railing against Warren and her proposal to smash the internet’s virtual monopolies — Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple — in leaked audio of open meetings with employees this summer released Tuesday by The Verge.
“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.
He continued, “Does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. That’s not like the position you want to be in. We care about our country, we want to work with our government to 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.”
Warren hit back on Twitter Tuesday, saying, “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.”
Republican strategist Patrick Griffin says Zuckerberg is right — “Warren being president would suck for every business, small or large, in this country.”
Zuckerberg’s comments represent “a collective fear of what would happen if the Democrats’ rising star becomes the nominee,” Griffin said.
“Zuckerberg in many ways should be a natural constituency for the future of the Democratic Party, and the Democratic nominee. He’s young, he’s high-tech, he’s tomorrow,” Griffin added. “This is one of the classic areas where an Elizabeth Warren candidacy is going to run into problems. She’s anti-business in every way.”
Silicon Valley is known for being liberal, “but being liberal on cultural issues doesn’t mean you’re liberal in the same way on economic issues,” said William Galston of the Brookings Institution. “There are a lot of liberal business people who are less enthusiastic about liberalism when it makes it harder for them to do business.”
Tech companies have already been grappling with increased scrutiny, particularly from progressives, amid fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and outside influence via social media platforms in the 2016 election.
But Galston said, “It’s entirely possible that there are people in Silicon Valley who dislike President Trump enough to support his opponent in the general election, regardless of the possible impact on their own business models.”
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