Since at least 2015, Mark Zuckerberg has opened up to tens of thousands of Facebook employees in weekly question-and-answer sessions. Very little of what Zuckerberg discussed in these sessions has become public—until Tuesday, that is, when The Verge published audio and transcripts from two of these meetings, where the CEO discusses a range of threats facing the company, from a potential Elizabeth Warren presidency to the rise of video app TikTok and Facebook’s declining public image.
Zuckerberg’s meetings came in the wake of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan, released in March, to “break up big tech.” The Democratic presidential candidate suggested Facebook behaved anti-competitively when it acquired potential competitors like Instagram, and called for Facebook’s mergers with Instagram and WhatsApp to be unwound. Analysts have suggested that Instagram could represent as much of 70 percent of Facebook’s total advertising revenue by 2020, and Facebook is able share data across its platforms, making a potential break-up painful for the advertising behemoth. In January, The New York Times first reported that Zuckerberg planned to integrate Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram further by unifying their “underlying technical infrastructure,” a reversal of Facebook’s earlier promises that the properties would be operated independently. That plan would let Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp users message one another across platforms in end-to-end encrypted messages; while adding encryption to Facebook Messenger and Instagram, which are not currently encrypted by default, could have some privacy benefits for users, it would also make the three companies more difficult to split apart.