Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri unsurprisingly seconded his boss’ internal comments to Facebook staff that a government breakup of the tech colossus wouldn’t help fix issues plaguing social platforms like election interference and the proliferation of hate speech.
Mosseri, in an appearance Wednesday on NBC News’ “Today,” addressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent remarks to employees — which surfaced in audio leaked to tech publication the Verge — that an Elizabeth Warren presidency would “suck” for the tech giant and that the company would “go to the mat” to fight attempts to break it up. The Democratic senator has made it part of her platform to dismantle Facebook and other big internet companies.
“Those comments were in an internal meeting, so he was being very candid, but generally I really do agree and stand by the comments that we don’t think it’s a good idea to break us up,” Mosseri said on “Today.”
Mosseri acknowledged, “It makes sense to me that people would be anxious about our scale” but said, “There’s a few things that it’s really good for. If you want to prevent interference in elections, if you want to reduce the spread of hate speech on the platforms, we benefit massively from working together closely.”
Mosseri — a longtime Facebook exec who took over as Instagram CEO after the departure of founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger last year — also talked about Instagram’s tests to eliminate “likes” on the platform.
“The big idea is to try and make Instagram feel less pressurized, to make it less of a competition and you can spend a little bit less time worrying about how many likes you have and a little bit more time connecting with people or things that inspire you,” he said.
In the leaked audio, from Zuckerberg’s Q&A with employees in July, he said, “You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies… If [Warren] 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.”
Zuckerberg added, “I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government,” but said “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.”
A U.S. government move to break up big tech companies, “whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues,” Zuckberg also said. “And, you know, it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.”
On Tuesday, Zuckerberg included a link to the Verge story about his leaked Q&A in a post on his Facebook page. “[E]ven though it was meant to be internal rather than public, now that it’s out there, you can check it out if you’re interested in seeing an unfiltered version of what I’m thinking” about topics including breaking up tech companies, the Facebook CEO wrote.
Warren responded to Zuckerberg’s comments on Twitter, writing in one tweet, “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.”
Facebook is the target of ongoing antitrust probes by the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice and multiple states attorneys generals about whether it has abused its market power.