/Mark Zuckerberg livestreamed Facebook Q&A session, blames intern for leaking audio to the press

Mark Zuckerberg livestreamed Facebook Q&A session, blames intern for leaking audio to the press

  • Audio from an internal Facebook Q&A with CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaked to the press earlier this week.
  • In response, Zuckerberg livestreamed this week’s Q&A session try and get out in front of any further leaks.
  • He addressed a wide range of topics, from who the company suspects was behind the leak to whether or not he thinks billionaires should exist.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get in front of further leaks from his private, internal question-and-answer sessions with employees by turning them into public livestreams.

Earlier this week, The Verge posted audio leaked from internal Facebook meetings which are normally only open to employees. It was a rare peek into how Zuckerberg talks to his colleagues and peers, and saw the company discuss rival app TikTok, regulation, and many other subjects.

Zuckerberg’s response to the leak was to promote the leaked audio obtained by The Verge on his public Facebook page, saying people should check it out if they wanted an “unfiltered” view into the company.

He took it a step further late Thursday, livestreaming the latest internal Q&A session.

Zuckerberg kicked off this latest meeting on Thursday afternoon to applause from the employees in the audience. “Don’t clap, you guys never clap” he said, laughing. “Don’t do that just because we’re streaming it live this week.”

Over the course of an hour Zuckerberg addressed current events from the week and employee questions.

Here are five highlights from the session.

1. He said an intern was behind the leak to The Verge

Zuckerberg began by addressing the leak that had prompted the idea for livestreaming Thursday’s Q&A. He said the leak had been a “pretty disappointing event.”

“We think it was an intern because it was an intern Q&A that I did, so it wasn’t one that was broadcast out to the whole company,” said Zuckerberg, adding that internally the reaction had been shock.

However, he went on to say that the company stood by all the things he had said in the leaked audio. “Fundamentally we believe everything we said that was in there,” he said.

2. He admitted he’s ‘robotic’ while doing interviews

Another reason Zuckerberg gave for livestreaming the Q&A is it might be better than him giving interviews.

“I’m just like the worst at interviews,” he said, acknowledging the criticism frequently levelled at his speaking style. “I’m robotic and I don’t think in soundbites, it’s like ‘Where do you go to plug yourself in at night to recharge,'” he said.

mark zuckerberg facebook senate hearing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was widely mocked for his robotic style while answering questions before the Senate.

AP Photo, Alex Brandon

“This was [an] interesting forcing function,” Zuckerberg said of the audio leak, which he says prompted him to experiment with livestreaming the weekly Q&A. “I do such a bad job at interviews, it’s like what do we have to lose.”

3. He mentioned Attorney General William Barr’s open letter about end-to-end encryption

On Thursday news broke that Attorney General Barr was penning a letter to Facebook asking it to delay its plans to implement end-to-end encrypted, self-deleting messages. Barr’s argument is that the function could make life harder for law enforcement trying to fight issues like terrorist content and child sexual exploitation.

Zuckerberg announced in March that Facebook was going to knit together all its messaging services on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp and make them all end-to-end encrypted.

Read more: The US and the UK sign “historic” agreement to speed up data-sharing in serious criminal cases

“I’m not going to go into a tonne of detail upfront, but this is one of the core tensions that we face,” said Zuckerberg, referring to the line the social network has to walk between protecting user privacy and ensuring public safety.

“We have a big effort that’s working on this. There are a lot of things we can do by trying to detect patterns of activity, by detecting bad activity upstream, by linking accounts together so we know is someone’s doing something bad on Facebook we can often act on their account in WhatsApp even if we can’t see the content,” he said.

4. Zuckerberg said a European ruling on taking down offending content worldwide was a ‘troubling precedent’

The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that European Union member states can force Facebook to remove content they rule illegal worldwide, not just within their own borders. The ruling has huge implications for speech on social media platforms.

Zuckerberg said the ruling was a “very troubling precedent to set,” given that different countries have different laws on freedom of speech.

“A lot of the details of how this gets implemented are going to depend on national courts across Europe,” he said.

He said that Facebook has had precedents where governments have tried to demand that content be removed outside of their country but that the company has “successfully fought them.”

“This is gonna be something that I imagine we and other services will be litigating and basically get clarity over what this means over a long period of time,” he said, explaining that while Facebook has no opportunity to appeal, it can influence the interpretation of the ruling.

5. Zuckerberg, the world’s fifth-richest man, said some billionaires might have too much money

An engineer asked Zuckerberg’s opinion on Bernie Sanders’ assertion last week that billionaires shouldn’t exist. At time of writing Zuckerberg is fifth on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, with a net worth of $69.4 billion.

Zuckerberg appeared to profess a libertarian view, suggesting that rich people rather than the government should determine how their billions are spent.

“I understand where he’s coming from. I don’t know if I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have. But look on some level, no one deserves to have that much money,” said Zuckerberg.

bernie sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders said billionaires shouldn’t exist.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

“I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable,” he said, and pointed to his philanthropy work with his wife Priscilla Chan. However, he argued that allowing billionaires to donate to philanthropic causes could be better than all spending being distributed publicly by the government — which he argued might not further innovation as much.

“At some level it’s not fair, but it may be optimal, or better than the alternative,” he said.

Zuckerberg addressed a range of other questions and topics, including Facebook’s new app Threads, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and a New York Times investigation into child sexual exploitation online. You can watch the full livestream below:

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