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updated: 10/4/2019 10:39 AM

Facebook CEO defends being a billionaire in live Q&A

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  • FILE -- In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference, in San Jose, Calif.

    FILE -- In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference, in San Jose, Calif.
    (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

 
 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth richest person in the world, both questioned and defended the existence of billionaires like himself during a live-streamed company town hall on Thursday.

"I don't know if I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have. At some level, no one deserves to have that much money," said Zuckerberg, who has a net worth of around $69 billion.

The company decided to air the usually private weekly Q&A session after The Verge published transcripts from an earlier town hall, in which Zuckerberg expressed concern about presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plans to break up the company.

Zuckerberg kicked off the session Thursday by saying that many internally were shocked by the leak, but that he stands by those comments. CFO Sheryl Sandberg also made a brief appearance.

The hourlong session touched on topics ranging from the impact of end-to-end encryption and cracking down on child exploitation and disinformation, to working remotely and even Facebook Dating.

"Let's try not to antagonize her further," Zuckerberg said of Warren when an employee asked the chief executive how he could stay impartial on the candidate.

He went on to say Facebook would not be impartial because the company would not value its own policy outcomes over the health of civic discourse and people's ability to express their opinions.

"I would rather have someone get elected, even if I disagree with them on everything -- which I don't even think is the case here -- than not give them the ability to say what they think," he said.

On the topic of his wealth, he added that he and his wife Priscilla Chan have dedicated to giving away most of their money during their lifetimes, something he admitted some don't think is enough.

The CEO also addressed criticisms of Facebook's plans to add end-to-end encryption to all its messaging products, a security measure which limits anyone other than the sender and recipient from being able to read the messages.

The United States joined Britain and Australia in calling on Facebook to reverse its plans to add end-to-end encryption to its messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. Critics claim the added layer of security, with out a backdoor for governments, will make it harder for law enforcement to access messages and investigate crimes. Some critics say will make it harder to catch people trading child pornography.

"When we were deciding to go to end-to-end encryption across the different apps, this is one of the things that just weighed the most heavily on me is how to we make sure we do a good job on this," he said. "What we've basically figured out is that often, it's not looking at the content that's most important, it's looking at the patterns of activity, and you can do that even in encrypted systems."