Mark Zuckerberg says he's ready to 'go to the mat' with federal regulators over threats to break up Facebook

mark zuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes a drink of water as he testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy.AP Photo

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is ready to "go to the mat" with federal regulators over threats to break up the social media giant.
  • "If someone's going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight," Zuckerberg said in leaked audio of a July town hall with employees published by The Verge on Tuesday.
  • Zuckerberg was specifically addressing a question about US presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has called for large tech companies like Facebook to be broken up.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is ready to "go to the mat" with the United States government over potential regulation.

"If someone's going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight," he told employees during a July town hall-style meeting. The transcript of the meeting was published by The Verge's Casey Newton on Tuesday morning.

Zuckerberg was asked specifically about US presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly called for major tech companies like Facebook to be broken up under antitrust regulation.

Elizabeth Warren2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenJohn Locher/AP Images

"If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge," Zuckerberg said. "And I would bet that we will win the legal challenge."

He noted that Facebook is reluctant to take on the challenge, and having to fight the US government in a "major lawsuit" would "still suck" for the social media giant. "We care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things," he said.

Warren addressed Zuckerberg's statement in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

"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," she said.

Read more: Elizabeth Warren's plan to regulate tech giants would force Facebook to break up with WhatsApp and Instagram

Under Warren's plan, Facebook could face regulation that would separate Facebook from its subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp. "Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market - which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy," Warren's plan states.

Facebook representatives did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on Zuckerberg's town hall comments.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photos/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: A combination photo from files of Facebook Google and Twitter logosReuters

Zuckerberg pushed back on the idea of breaking up so-called "big tech" companies in the same company meeting.

"Breaking up these companies, whether it's Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues," he said. "It doesn't make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can't coordinate and work together. It doesn't make any of the hate speech or issues like that less likely. It makes it more likely because now ... all the processes that we're putting in place and investing in, now we're more fragmented."

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