Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke with a longstanding tradition today and decided to live stream one of his company’s routine Q&A sessions he hosts with employees, ones where anyone is free and supposedly even encouraged to ask the chief executive a tough question.
The decision was made as a direct response to leaked audio obtained by The Verge and published earlier this week of a previous, private Q&A that detailed Zuckerberg’s candid and unscripted views on everything from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plans to break up Big Tech to the harrowing working conditions of contract content moderators. You can read the full transcript of Zuckerberg’s leaked internal Facebook Q&A sessions here.
The lack of previous leaks from these Q&As, which Zuckerberg has been hosting for roughly a decade now, was a source of pride for Facebook and a symbol of the trust Facebook employees have historically put in their boss. And, as Recode’s Peter Kafka pointed out this week, the leak signals that the company’s culture may be undergoing substantial changes as its public image continues to suffer. Earlier this year, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stopped showing up to the company’s similar weekly town hall meetings in response to an uptick in leaks. (Zuckerberg, to his credit, said he would not stop hosting the Q&As.)
In the Q&A, Zuckerberg spoke freely about why he talks transparently with employees and the trust he believes he’s built within the company, a trust that was apparently betrayed by the decision to share audio with the media. But putting that aside, Zuckerberg hosted what seemed to be a fairly standard talk that was followed by a global Q&A featuring employees for a number of remote offices.
Among the topics Zuckerberg was asked about include his thoughts on billionaires, which prompted him to share his interesting perspective that “no one deserves to have that much money,” and what he believes would signal that Facebook is on the decline. He was also asked again about Warren, to which he replied that he did not want to “try not to antagonize her further.” He did ultimately express his view that innovation is a proper counterweight to industry consolidation.
He spoke at length about virtual and augmented reality, and he was pressed by an employee to explain his company’s push toward encrypted messaging services after The New York Times reported this past week how the spread of such technology has thwarted law enforcement’s ability to combat the spread of child pornography. That encryption issue in particular has caught the attention of the US Justice Department, which sent a letter today asking the company halt its efforts to create unified, encrypted messaging services.
You can watch the full Q&A session here: