Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the unprecedented call to publicly livestream the company’s weekly Q&A session with employees Friday after audio recordings from similar meetings in July were leaked and published earlier this week.
Around 30,000 users tuned as Zuckerberg referred to this “pretty disappointing” leak in his opening remarks. In the recordings published by the Verge, he outlines Facebook’s intention to fight American antitrust regulators and U.S. presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren should she win and carry through on her promise to break up big tech companies, sentiments Zuckerberg confirmed the company stands by Thursday.
“Maybe I said it in a little bit more unfiltered of a way than I would externally but fundamentally… we believe everything that we said that was in there,” he said.
So, of course, one of the first questions employees had concerned how Facebook would remain impartial toward the candidate throughout the upcoming 2020 election given Zuckerberg’s previous comments, to which the Facebook CEO quipped: “Let’s try not to antagonise her further.”
In all seriousness, he added, his comments were regarding specific policy proposals, not her candidacy or the upcoming election in its entirety, to which the company maintains its commitment to transparency and neutrality on its platform. “Even when people disagree with what I think should happen in the world, I still want to give them a voice,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s decision to livestream the Q&A, unfortunately, proved much more noteworthy than the meeting itself, which covered the typical self-congratulatory fanfare you’d expect at any company’s internal get-together. One small bit of surprise came when the Facebook CEO, a multi-billionaire himself, was asked to comment on Senator Bernie Sanders’ recent tweet that “Billionaires should not exist”, a question that earned a round of applause of the room. Though Zuckerberg didn’t outline any potential policies or solutions, he did sympathise with the senator.
“I understand where he’s coming from. I don’t know that I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have but on some level no one deserves to have that much money.”
Among other topics, Zuckerberg touched on the launch of Instagram’s presumably teen-targeted Threads app, how Facebook Dating has been performing so far — “quite well,” though he wouldn’t go into specific stats — and how, in the company’s ongoing fight against online misinformation, it’s prioritising tackling obvious hoaxes from going viral.
He also commented on a ruling by the European Court of Justice earlier on Friday, calling it a “troubling precedent to set.” As part of this decision, the European Union can order Facebook to delete content globally if it’s ruled illegal in Europe
“This is going to be something that I would imagine we and other services will be litigating and basically trying to get to clarity on what this means over a long period of time,” Zuckerberg said Thursday.
As for whether the company will continue to broadcast these meetings, Zuckerberg made no promises. Instead, he described this week’s livestream as a test of sorts, adding: “At this point, I do such a bad job at interviews that what do we have to lose?”