Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg’s Plan to Fight Warren and Take on TikTok
“The Warren bit (a little overhyped in the headline) will get attention. But the more damning thing in the Zuckerberg tapes is him saying they cloned TikTok and are perfecting it in Mexico.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered a range of questions from employees in a leaked audio of a company meeting published by the Verge on Tuesday, such as the threat progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren pose in breaking up Big Tech companies as well as internal plans for taking on rival company TikTok, among other topics.
“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. And does that still suck for us? Yeah,” said Zuckerberg.
“I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in … It’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and 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,” the Facebook CEO continued.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren quickly responded to Zuckerberg’s leaked comments about facing an antitrust lawsuit under a progressive administration.
“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,” Warren tweeted.
Zuckerberg’s Plan To Take Down TikTok
“The Warren bit (a little overhyped in the headline) will get attention,” tweeted journalist David Dayen. “But the more damning thing in the Zuckerberg tapes is him saying they cloned TikTok and are perfecting it in Mexico before they roll it out to crush them worldwide.”
TikTok is a video-sharing app that has rapidly grown since launching in China in 2016, which claims to now serve around 500 million worldwide. Zuckerberg, who noted that TikTok now has more users in India than Instagram, described it as a “very interesting phenomenon” and outlined his plan of attack.
The Facebook CEO said his company has rolled out a TikTok clone app in Mexico, a country where the app has yet to gain footing, in order to perfect it before unleashing the clone app in countries where it would directly compete with TikTok.
“We have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico,” Zuckerberg said in the recording. “We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.”
“The model for FB’s strategy is what they did to Snap,” Dayen tweeted. After Snapchat rejected Facebook’s $3 billion offer in 2013, the photo-sharing app continued to grow and expand for years. After failing to purchase Snapchat, unlike former-rivals Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg took a different strategy. “Don’t be too proud to copy,” became the informal slogan at Facebook, according to Wired, with the tech giant copying Snapchat’s stories and short-lived message features.
“Honestly v nice of zuck to juxtapose his ‘breaking us up won’t solve the problem’ bleating with examples of ways in which it *absolutely* would,” tweeted Lindsay Barrett, a fellow at Georgetown’s IPR tech clinic, in reference to Zuckerberg’s TikTok strategy, which would be stifled if Warren’s big tech plan was enacted.
Zuckerberg spoke of other controversies in the leaked audio, including his near total control over the company, the Libra cryptocurrency, and on protecting Facebook’s 30,000 contracted content moderators.