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U.S. presidential hopeful Warren wants breakup of Google, Facebook and Amazon

Elizabeth Warren Demands DOJ Antitrust Chief Recuse Himself From Google and Apple Probes

Postby smix » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:13 am

Elizabeth Warren Demands DOJ Antitrust Chief Recuse Himself From Google and Apple Probes
Gizmodo

URL: https://gizmodo.com/elizabeth-warren-de ... 1835411938
Category: Politics
Published: June 11, 2019

Description: The U.S. Justice Department recently signaled it was exploring possible antitrust investigations into Google and Apple. Leading those investigations—assuming they actually happen—would be none other than Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, a former lobbyist that presidential hopeful and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren says should recuse himself due to his history with both companies. In a letter to Delrahim, Warren notes Google paid Delrahim about $100,000 in 2007 to lobby federal antitrust officials for the company’s acquisition of DoubleClick Inc, an online ad company. That gig paid off, as it eventually culminated in a $3.1 billion merger. As for Delrahim’s ties to Apple, Warren notes he also lobbied on behalf of the Cupertino giant regarding patent reforms. The letter further emphasizes that Delrahim worked as a corporate lobbyist until 2016, and counted Anthem, Pfizer, Qualcomm, and Caesars among his clients. “Your past work as a lobbyist for two of the largest and most scrutinized tech companies in the world creates the appearance of conflict of interest,” writes Warren. “As the head of the antitrust division at the DOJ, you should not be supervising investigations into former clients who paid you tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the federal government.” Warren also sent a similarly worded letter to DOJ ethics officials, urging Delrahim’s recusal. She also asked for a response from both Delrahim and the DOJ by June 14.

warren-crazy.jpg

While Big Tech has been under greater overall scrutiny in Washington, it’s fair to say Warren deserves some of the credit for pushing the issue into the national political conversation. Back in March, the Democratic presidential candidate proposed a plan to break up Amazon, Google, and Facebook at a rally in New York. On the issue of lobbying, Warren also introduced a bill in 2018 that would prohibit corporate lobbyists like Delrahim from taking government positions for six years. Meanwhile, potential antitrust probes of the tech giants are gaining steam. While the DOJ has claimed jurisdiction over Apple and Google, the Federal Trade Commission called dibs on Facebook and Amazon. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee announced it’s launching an all-out antitrust probe into the tech industry, and it’s holding its first hearing on the issue today.
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Elizabeth Warren bites back at Zuckerberg’s leaked threat to K.O. the government

Postby smix » Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:25 am

Elizabeth Warren bites back at Zuckerberg’s leaked threat to K.O. the government
TechCrunch

URL: https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/01/no-you-suck/
Category: Politics
Published: October 1, 2019

Description: Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has responded publicly to a leaked attack on her by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying she won’t be bullied out of taking big tech to task for anticompetitive practices.
I'm not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable. It's time to #BreakUpBigTech:

warren-pony.jpg

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019

Warren’s subtweeting of the Facebook founder follows a leak in which the Verge obtained two hours of audio from an internal Q&A session with Zuckerberg — publishing a series of snippets today. In one snippet the Facebook leader can be heard opining on how Warren’s plan to break up big tech would “suck”. “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,” he can be heard saying. “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 responded soon after publication with a pithy zinger, writing on Twitter: “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.”
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.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 1, 2019

In a follow up tweet she added that she would not be afraid to “hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon accountable”. The Verge claims it did not obtain the leaked audio from Facebook’s PR machine. But in a public Facebook post following its publication of the audio snippets Zuckerberg links to their article — and doesn’t exactly sound mad to have what he calls his “unfiltered” views put right out there…
Here are Zuckerberg's thoughts on the leak. To answer some of the conspiracy tweets I've gotten: no, Facebook PR did not give me this audio. I wish!

zuckerberg-thougt.jpg

— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) October 1, 2019

Whether the audio was leaked intentionally or not, as many commentators have been quick to point out — Warren principal among them — the fact that a company has gotten so vastly powerful it feels able to threaten to fight and defeat its own government should give pause for civilized thought. Someone high up in Facebook’s PR department might want to pull Zuckerberg aside and make a major wincing gesture right in his face.
Fortunately Facebook has no power to control what information flows to people

zuckerbergs.jpg

— David Dayen (@ddayen) October 1, 2019

In another of the audio snippets Zuckerberg extends the threat — arguing that breaking up tech giants would threaten the integrity of elections. “It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues,” he is heard saying. “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.” Elections such as the one Warren hopes to be running in as a US presidential candidate… so er… again this argument is a very strange one to be making when the critics you’re railing against are calling you an overbearing, oversized democracy-denting beast. Zuckerberg’s remarks also contain the implied threat that a failure to properly police elections, by Facebook, could result in someone like Warren not actually getting elected in the first place. Given, y’know, the vast power Facebook wields with its content-shaping algorithms which amplify narratives and shape public opinion at cheap, factory farm scale. Reading between the lines, then, presidential hopefuls should be really careful what they say about important technology companies — or, er, else!
Zuckerberg claims that one particular candidate poses an existential threat to his company. Minutes later, he claims the size of that company lets it effectively police the integrity of the election in which she is running. He thinks this is an argument *against* breaking it up.
— Silpa Kovvali (@SilpaKov) October 1, 2019

How times change. Just a few short years ago Zuckerberg was the guy telling everyone that election interference via algorithmically amplified social media fakes was “a pretty crazy idea”. Now he’s saying only tech behemoths like Facebook can save democracy from, uh, tech behemoths like Facebook…
Zuckerberg now: Breaking up tech firms makes election interference more likely. Zuckerberg then: Election interference? Nah man. That's just a "crazy idea"
— Natasha (@riptari) October 1, 2019

For more on where Zuckerberg’s self-servingly circular logic leads, let’s refer to another of his public talking points: That only Facebook’s continued use of powerful, privacy-hostile AI technologies such as facial recognition can save Western society from a Chinese-style state dystopia in which the presence of your face broadcasts a social credit score for others to determine what you get to access. This equally uncompelling piece of ‘Zuckerlogic’ sums to: ‘Don’t regulate our privacy hostile shit — or China will get to do worse shit before we can!’ So um… yeah but no.
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Zuckerberg Hates Warren’s Plan to Break Up Facebook. She Doesn’t Care.

Postby smix » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:12 am

Zuckerberg Hates Warren’s Plan to Break Up Facebook. She Doesn’t Care.
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/us/p ... ebook.html
Category: Politics
Published: October 1, 2019

Description: In leaked audio, Mark Zuckerberg said he would sue over Elizabeth Warren’s antitrust plan if she was elected president. She responded in kind.

warren-flame.jpg

For months, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has made “big, structural change,” the rallying cry of her presidential campaign. And when it comes to the tech sector, that has meant taking square aim at giant companies like Facebook — companies she says have become so large that they are stifling competition. Ms. Warren rolled out a proposal to break up Facebook, Amazon and other tech giants in March. To ensure that tech workers got her message, her campaign paid for a billboard near a major transit station in San Francisco. It read “Break Up Big Tech,” in capital letters. On Tuesday, nearly seven months after Ms. Warren first unveiled her plan, The Verge offered a window into what Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, thinks about it. In leaked audio recordings of open meetings with employees this summer, Mr. Zuckerberg can be heard saying that the company would sue if Ms. Warren were to enact the plan as president. “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,” he said. “Does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. That’s not like the position you want to be in. We care about our country and want to work with our government to do good things,” he added. “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.” Shortly after The Verge published Mr. Zuckerberg’s remarks, Ms. Warren responded by renewing her criticism of Facebook. “What would really ‘suck,’” she said, mimicking Mr. Zuckerberg’s language, “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.” The surfacing of grievances between Ms. Warren and Mr. Zuckerberg has the effect of publicly pitting one of the leading Democratic candidates for president against the head of the world’s largest social network, at a time when Silicon Valley in general and Facebook in particular continue to be scrutinized for their efforts to combat disinformation and prevent election interference in 2020 and beyond. In the audio recording clipped and published by The Verge, Mr. Zuckerberg ties his criticism of Ms. Warren’s plan to concerns about election interference. “It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues,” he 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.” After the leaked audio was published and Ms. Warren responded, Mr. Zuckerberg commented on the episode in a Facebook post. “Every week I do a Q&A at Facebook where employees get to ask me anything and I share openly what I’m thinking on all kinds of projects and issues,” he said. “The transcript from one of my Q&As a few months ago just got published online — and even 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 and telling employees on a bunch of topics.” Ms. Warren, meanwhile, used the renewed focus on the issue as an opportunity to reiterate that she is “not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable.” In her proposal, Ms. Warren argues that the tech giants have essentially developed monopolies — they have “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” Her plan calls for legislation that would prohibit platforms like Amazon from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace; appointing regulators to undo some tech mergers; and rolling back some acquisitions by tech giants, such as Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram. Later Tuesday, she pressed the issue, firing off a five-tweet thread that began: “Let’s talk a bit about my plan to #BreakUpBigTech and why it’s got Mark Zuckerberg so worked up.” “Facebook is doing pretty well right now,” Ms. Warren said, citing its acquisitions as evidence that tech companies had amassed significant power and face little competition. “Imagine Facebook and Instagram trying to outdo each other to protect your privacy and keep misinformation out of your feed, instead of working together to sell your data, inundate you with misinformation, and undermine our election security,” she said. “That’s why we need to #BreakUpBigTech.” By offering a steady diet of detailed policy proposals, Ms. Warren has grown her following significantly and risen to the top of the polls. Her plans to reshape the government extend to areas like the economy and education, where she has called for a wealth tax and canceling student loan debt. “We have these giant corporations — do I have to tell that to people in Long Island City? — that think they can roll over everyone,” Ms. Warren told a crowd there earlier this year, after Amazon pulled out of plans to build a new campus in the neighborhood. “I’m sick of freeloading billionaires.”



Elizabeth Warren Sticks Her Message in Big Tech’s Face
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/tech ... pe=Article
Category: Politics
Published: June 3, 2019

Description: SAN FRANCISCO — A threat of government regulation is casting a shadow over the tech industry. Now there is a billboard to remind tech workers about it on their commutes. In all capital letters, on a black background, the sign reads: “Break Up Big Tech.”

warren-break-up-big-tech.jpg

The billboard, paid for by Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, greets commuters as they walk toward the city’s main Caltrain station, the transit hub that connects San Francisco to the big tech firms in Silicon Valley. The train stops in Menlo Park (home to Facebook), Mountain View (home to Google) and Sunnyvale (near Apple’s headquarters). The appetite among politicians and regulators to break up tech giants is growing. On Friday, news broke that the Justice Department is exploring opening an investigation into Google for potential antitrust violations. The Federal Trade Commission is taking a look at Amazon. And it’s not just politicians thinking about this: In May, a Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, wrote an essay titled “It’s time to break up Facebook.” “I’ve been talking for years about how Big Tech has too much power over our economy and our democracy,” Ms. Warren wrote in an email to The New York Times. “I’m going to keep making the case for my plan to break up Big Tech and put power back in the hands of the American people — whether it’s at SXSW, a town hall in Iowa or a billboard in the heart of Silicon Valley.” While San Francisco is not exactly the heart of Silicon Valley — that would be about 20 miles south on the Caltrain line — her billboard, which went up on Wednesday, is above a lot of tech workers. And many are not thrilled with it. A good portion of the people at that San Francisco intersection during the rush were drawn here by the tech industry. They are here to work for one of the big companies (most of the firms also have large offices in San Francisco), or for a start-up, or they are lawyers for tech, or doing market research for tech, or they run pizza shops for tech workers. Though the economic windfall has helped exacerbate what some residents and officials say is growing inequality, others who have found a niche in town are wary of messing with success. “There isn’t a single person here who doesn’t benefit from these companies,” said Tony Riviera, 61, who owns a few restaurants around San Francisco, including the nearby Slices Pizzeria. “These guys are out working hard, making good money and spending good money, and if it weren’t for tech this city would be dead.” He said the senator had “bought some bad placement.” He added that he had some food-tech ideas. Some worried about the unintended consequences of cracking down on tech’s biggest companies. “Any damage to the big companies would damage the whole economy,” said Yesh Devabhaktuni, 25, who works as a software engineer for Walmart Labs. “The small companies need the big companies.” Others moved here from around the world to work in the industry. “Tech giants are where innovation is happening, and they offer a lot of jobs,” said Fred Ren, 27, a software engineer who immigrated from Canada. “I came here for that.” And some scoffed at the idea that start-ups could no longer compete. “There’s always opportunities for more start-ups,” said Edmund Park, 28, a data scientist for a market research firm. The fire alarm technician walking by did not like it, either. “‘Big Tech’ is a big generalization,” said Rick DeRushia, 58. Even a tech worker whose project was blocked by Google argued against breaking up the tech giants. Michael Plasmeier, 28, a product manager, had once worked on a home screen competitor that he says Google squeezed out. “That product ended up not going anywhere, and, yeah, it was frustrating,” Mr. Plasmeier said, adding that he still did not want to see the companies broken up. He said that because big tech firms often bought struggling start-ups, they played a vital role keeping the region’s innovation machine going. Chuck Conlon, 44, who works as a sales and design consultant at HD Buttercup, the high-end furniture store the billboard is attached to, suggested the message might have more fans in a different part of the city. The Caltrain station is in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, home to scores of tech start-ups. “This is an odd area to put it — the whole area’s all tech,” Mr. Conlon said. “But I guess she knew that?” But one of his colleagues, Megan Schmitz, 28, was enthusiastic about the message. “What a badass,” she said. “I love it.” With the headlines seemingly always negative, some rank-and-file workers in the tech industry believe they are being unfairly demonized. Laura Grantham, 48, an engineering recruiter at the file-hosting service Dropbox, said that she was a fan of the senator but that the message was alienating. “I know why she’s saying that, but I feel like if you just only saw that billboard you’d be like, ‘Oh, wow, Elizabeth Warren really hates us,’” Ms. Grantham said. But others recognized points in American history when the federal government intervened to break up powerful companies. “Out here, people write this rhetoric off as absurd, that it’s never going to happen, but that’s because they’re ignoring history,” said Collins Belton, 28, a lawyer at the tech law firm Atrium. “The oil barons did the same thing.” This is not Ms. Warren’s first time going straight to tech people to say tech is too powerful. In March, she detailed her argument to the audience of South by Southwest, or SXSW, a technology and music festival in Texas. “You can be an umpire or you can own teams,” Ms. Warren said. “But you can’t be an umpire and own one of the teams that’s in the game.”

Image

On Saturday, while she was in town for the state’s Democratic convention, Ms. Warren visited the billboard. She took a selfie underneath it.
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Is Elizabeth Warren Really an Existential Threat to Facebook?

Postby smix » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:40 pm

Is Elizabeth Warren Really an Existential Threat to Facebook?
GuruFocus.com

URL: https://www.gurufocus.com/news/969702/i ... o-facebook
Category: Politics
Published: October 24, 2019

Description: Mark Zuckerberg looks increasingly scared of the liberal senator

warren-zuckerberg.jpg

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made Big Tech a major target of her campaign. Breaking with more moderate Democrats, Warren has called for the outright breakup of large tech companies, including Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. As we have discussed in previous research notes, the potential for antitrust action against these companies represents a serious black swan risk for investors. While all the tech giants could find themselves in Warren’s crosshairs post-election, Facebook appears to be the most vulnerable. The social media behemoth has earned plenty of negative political and media coverage for its perceived laxity in managing “fake news” and other perception-manipulating posts and ads. Heading into an election year, these threats will only mount.
Existential threat
Warren may not win the Democratic nomination, but her call to break up Big Tech will not die with her candidacy. While more moderate Democratic hopefuls like former Vice President Joe Biden are not likely to follow her lead, other left-leaning candidates will. Indeed, some already have, including Senator Bernie Sanders. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes the threat is serious. In a leaked recording of a speech to employees on Oct. 1, Zuckerberg said Warren’s efforts represent an existential threat to Facebook:
"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. 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."

That was the first time Zuckerberg was caught speaking about Warren as a credible threat. The presidential hopeful was quick to capitalize on the leak, taking to Twitter to further beat the drum of anti-Big Tech sentiment:
“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. I'm not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable. It's time to #BreakUpBigTech...If Facebook finds my scrutiny uncomfortable, here's what Mark Zuckerberg and his team could work on: Ending his company's illegal anticompetitive practices; Protecting consumers' privacy instead of Facebook's profits; Ensuring Facebook isn’t undermining our election security.”

Danger of isolation
One problem facing Facebook is that, despite her antipathy toward Big Tech, Warren is quite popular in Silicon Valley. According to Vox Recode’s October canvass of Silicon Valley fundraisers, the senator from Massachusetts remained highly regarded, and has even gained ground among liberal tech grandees:
“Warren is making significant inroads with some of tech’s wealthiest Democrats. That progress would have been unthinkable just six months ago after she called for the industry’s iconic companies to be split asunder. Warren has not moderated her at times vitriolic rhetoric toward Silicon Valley. But tech elites are not, as often caricatured, single-issue voters driven by tech policy. And the two dozen tech executives, investors, and veteran fundraisers who spoke with Recode outlined three key reasons why their industry is making this unexpected shift toward Warren: They say they respect her policy rigor. They see her as less radical than once imagined (and especially when compared to Bernie Sanders). And perhaps most importantly, she has a reasonable path to winning the nomination, and there’s nothing Silicon Valley loves more than a winner.”

Silicon Valley’s desire to ingratiate itself with Warren is understandable. However, as Vox’s Teddy Schleifer has pointed out, these efforts have largely failed to alter Warren’s political position:
“Silicon Valley has developed some strange new respect for Elizabeth Warren. The only problem? Warren absolutely refuses to play the Silicon Valley donor game. At all.”

While other big players in Silicon Valley have begun to make their peace with the possibility of a Warren presidency, even if they have not yet figured out how to get her on their side, Facebook has found itself under escalating political fire from the candidate and her allies. An isolated company is a vulnerable one.
Enemy of the republic
Zuckerberg has hardly done himself or Facebook any favors in terms of public and political perceptions. His decision to push back against calls by politicians to restrict political ads on Facebook has made him more enemies, and raised the specter that the social media mogul may not be an ally of open, democratic political discourse. Indeed, his longtime fascination with Augustus Caesar is especially alarming. In a 2018 interview with the New Yorker, Zuckerberg reflected on his love of the first emperor:
"Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace. What are the trade-offs in that? On the one hand, world peace is a long-term goal that people talk about today. Two hundred years feels unattainable."

Praising Augustus – the man who ended the Roman Republic and became the first Roman emperor – is arguably an especially bad look for a business leader in a political climate that seems increasingly to flirt with anti-democratic sentiment. As Business Insider reflected in a 2018 article, Zuckerberg’s Augustus obsession may raise eyebrows in policymaking circles:
“Zuckerberg rightfully concluded that the Pax Romana ‘didn't come for free’ and vaguely acknowledged that Augustus ‘had to do certain things’ in order to secure the peace. Today, people around the world are beginning to question the impact that tech giants like Facebook are having on democratic societies. That's not to say that Zuckerberg is a calculating ancient despot like Augustus. But social media platforms are having a real impact on the political realm.”

Verdict
Facebook looks very vulnerable right now. Grueling public and media scrutiny will likely wear on the company, especially as the long presidential election cycle kicks into high-gear in 2020. Warren is hardly guaranteed to win either the Democratic nomination, or the general election for that matter, but that is not terribly important in the long run. Of greater concern is the normalization of the notion that Big Tech can – and perhaps should – be broken up. If that idea gains widespread appeal, it could mean serious trouble for many highly-valued tech stocks.
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