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Elizabeth Warren hits back at Zuckerberg over antitrust comments

US Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has hit back at Mark Zuckerberg after it emerged that he told Facebook employees she would fail to break up the social media giant if she enters office.

In audio recordings obtained by the Verge, Zuckerberg is heard saying: “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. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government.”

Warren responded in a tweet later on Tuesday (1 October): “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.”

A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, but pointed NS Tech to Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, where he has linked to the full transcript published by the Verge, writing: “Check it out if you’re interested in seeing an unfiltered version of what I’m thinking and telling employees.” Zuckerberg has previously threatened to fire employees who speak to journalists, according to the New York Times.

Last month, it emerged that US state attorneys general were preparing the way for antitrust investigations into Facebook and Google amid concerns about the compaies’ so-called duopoly on online advertising. Around 30 states have joined forces to investigate Google’s impact on privacy and competition, according to reports, while so far eight states have joined the Facebook probe.

Google said at the time that the company’s services “create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country”. Facebook said “people have multiple choices for every one of the services we provide. We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face, not only in the US but around the globe.”

Facebook owns three of the world’s four most popular social media and messaging platforms: Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. YouTube, the world’s second most popular platform, is owned by Google.