Over the last few months, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has positioned herself as one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination for president in the United States’ 2020 elections.
Widely viewed as the ‘most progressive candidate’ in the Democratic primaries, Warren has built her run around a series of forward-looking, liberal reforms – most of which aimed at reducing income inequality.
As, the U.S. economy showing some signs of slowing down, there may indeed be quite a lot of sense in the running on economic reform (even if some disagree with the senator’s specific policy goals or plans of action).
For the most part, Warren has crafted a persona as a progressive economic reformer for herself around the core issues of the American electorate: “Plans for taxes and health care, ways of addressing student debt, and cutting down on corporate waste and tax evasion, and so on.”
These are not different areas for candidates of both political parties to focus on, even if they do so in different ways.
Where, Warren sets herself apart is in her almost uniquely progressive approach to these subjects – as well as in the fact that, “She’s positioned herself as the candidate who will take on the billionaire class, break up monopolies, and generally crackdown on what’s increasingly described as ‘immoral’ extreme wealth.”
Which has led to numerous op-eds and public comments from wealthy figures and elite business owners expressing caution over a potential Elizabeth Warren presidency?
In the case of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, things have gone further.
Beginning with Warren’s unveiling of a plan to break up big tech companies, she and Zuckerberg have locked in something of a public feud.
Warren’s Plan For Big Tech
The roots of the Zuckerberg-Warren feud are in the fact that “Warren believes, weak antitrust laws in the U.S. have allowed ‘big tech’ companies to become too dominant.” Eliminate too much competition, and essentially rob users of choice, and thereby enable themselves to act irresponsibly.
She has various plans to fix these issues through the core of them is that “She would look to reverse anti-competitive mergers and keep tech companies of a specific size from running their platform utilities.”
Through its efforts, Warren hopes, “To provide greater control to the users over their data, give news outlets, and to creatives a more significant share of the value of the content they generate and decrease the threat of foreign powers using social media to influence American elections.”
Zuckerberg’s Known Concern
It’s only natural that the above proposals – while appealing to much of the American public – have spooked some prominent tech leaders. It would be one thing if they were merely idealistic concepts being tossed around in the primary. Still, as things are shaping up, they’re core proposals from a legitimate Democratic front-runner.
At this stage, some of the top U.K. betting sites are posting odds on the U.S. elections already, and they’re widely counting Warren as one of the betting favorites.
The polls for the last few months have told a similar story. And for these reasons, Zuckerberg hasn’t just expressed disagreement, but instead appears genuinely concerned.
The leaked audio has revealed the young CEO suggesting that: Aspects of the plans (those that would un-do Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram) would represent an “existential threat” to the company.
Beyond The Wealth Issues
Even after given all of the above, the disputes between Senator Warren and Mark Zuckerberg may not have become a big story. Were it not for the fact that Facebook has also come under scrutiny for its handling of misinformation.
Stubbornly maintaining that, Facebook is not a media company (when for all intents and purposes, it has become just that).
Zuckerberg has argued that “the company itself cannot fact-check political posts, and is thus limited in its ability to prevent demonstrably false information from reaching the voting public.”
Warren and other Democratic Party members have also extensively challenged the stance with the senator. Even going so far as to post her own false Face book ad about Zuckerberg, as a means of pointing out the sort of content the CEO is allowing to go unchecked.
As of now, the dispute between Warren and Zuckerberg appears to be at something of a standstill. Furthermore, as the Democratic primaries advance toward 2020, other issues will likely occupy the spotlight.
However, given Warren’s legitimate chance at the Democratic nomination, this dispute isn’t going to go away entirely.