Zuckerberg and North Korea

Grind for October 4th
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”
– WC Fields

Fighting Back

The Headline

Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Big Tech; Mark Zuckerberg vows to sue the government if she is elected

The Grind

During a Q&A session with employees this summer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would sue the US Government if Elizabeth Warren is elected president:

“You have someone like Elizabeth Warren [who] thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies…I mean, 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,” said Zuckerberg.

“I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government,” continued Zuckerberg. “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 fight.”

The Details

Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plans to break up Big Tech in March, arguing that big companies like Apple and Facebook are “throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.”

What Warren doesn’t understand is that her plans to disrupt Wall Street and Big Tech will reduce the number of rich people – and she wants to tax rich people to expand welfare programs.

Furthermore, explains Zuckerberg, breaking up Big Tech won’t solve any issues because it will weaken the companies that are big enough to fight for change:

“It doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together. It doesn’t make any of the hate speech or issues like that less likely. It makes it more likely because now…all the processes that we’re putting in place and investing in, now we’re more fragmented.”

During the Q&A, Zuckerberg also discussed the rise of Chinese app TikTok and his plans to compete with it – including a standalone app called “Lasso” and changes to Instagram.

“I think we have time to learn and understand and get ahead of the trend,” said Zuckerberg of TikTok. “It is growing, but they’re spending a huge amount of money promoting it. What we’ve found is that their retention is actually not that strong after they stop advertising. So the space is still fairly nascent, and there’s time for us to kind of figure out what we want to do here.”

In the meantime, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is working on bills to ban features that make social media addicting and to remove certain liability protections from tech companies if they fail to prove they are politically neutral.

Last month, Hawley asked Zuckerberg to prove his commitment to competition and privacy by selling WhatsApp and Instagram and allowing a third-party audit on censorship. He refused.

Off Again, On Again

The Headline

United States to resume negotiations with North Korea

The Grind

North Korean and US officials on Tuesday confirmed that working-level talks would resume within the week.

The most recent negotiations, held in Hanoi in February, broke down when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un demanded the US lift all sanctions.

The Trump Administration has remained firm on its promise to maintain sanctions until North Korea makes verifiable progress towards denuclearization, while North Korea wants the sanctions removed before it starts to relinquish weapons.

The Details

North Korea conducted several short-range weapons tests after the February meeting, but relations started to improve during the summer when reports confirmed that Trump and Kim had exchanged personal letters.

The two leaders met in June at the inter-Korean border, where they decided that official negotiations should continue.

News of the upcoming talks comes less than one month after North Korea celebrated President Trump’s decision to fire his national security adviser, John Bolton, whose hardline stance had worried the North Koreans.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was ready to resume talks with North Korea:

“We hope the phone rings and that we get that call, and we get that chance to find a place and a time that work for the North Koreans and that we can deliver on the commitments that Chairman Kim and President Trump made,” said Pompeo, referring to the denuclearization treaty the leaders signed last June.

On Monday, North Korean envoy Kim Song said it was up to the United States to improve relations between the two countries: “It depends on the US whether the DPRK-US negotiations will become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis.”

Did you know… In 1986, the nuclear submarine K-219 sank in 18,000 feet of water due to a missile silo leak. Two years later when it was located the missile doors were found forced open and the nuclear payload was gone.