Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator and presidential hopeful in the US 2020 elections, last spring tested the waters to see if going after Big Tech would stick as an effective campaign platform.
And it has. Warren, who is proposing to break up some of the world’s and tech’s biggest companies on antitrust grounds, has lately been posting a tweet about this issue pretty much every hour on the hour – clearly focusing her campaign efforts on the problem.
And Warren has added into the mix other grievances often heard when people criticize Big Tech: violations of privacy and consumer rights, undermining of elections and competitors, hashtagging her posts with the slogan “BreakUpBigTech.”
She is also portraying the giants as too powerful not only economically but also politically and wielding too much social influence – a policy that seems to stand in contrast with what most Democrats are saying when they deny that tech giants constitute for public spaces, instead of being just simple, plain private companies.
Of course, what and how much Warren would be prepared and able to do about all this, in case she is elected, is anybody’s guess at this time – but the rhetoric is strong and loud.
And Big Tech has heard it, and is looking for ways to respond should it be backed up against the wall by some future administration. The Verge has a report about a leaked audio of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent remarks, when he referred to Warren, among other things.
Zuckerberg said that her becoming president would create “a legal challenge” for his company, but one that he was nevertheless certain Facebook would win.
“And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government… 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 seemed only too happy to engage and post her response on Twitter, when she used big and strong words like “corrupt system” and “illegal anticompetitive practices”:
“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, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
In his leaked speech, Zuckerberg also said that breaking up Facebook, Google and Amazon would not help the problem. And unlike Warren, who covers anything from competition to privacy and election integrity in her criticism, Zuckerberg seems to think that allowing “election interference” is he real reason politicians are breathing down Big Tech’s neck now.
But spinning off their parts won’t help, he claims, adding, “it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.”