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Sheryl Sandberg: Breaking up Facebook won't fix social media

Facebook's COO says she's ready to do "whatever it takes" to keep people safe.

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Facebook knows it has hard work to do, says COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is doing the hard work necessary to protect elections and your privacy. That's the message from Sheryl Sandberg in interviews with CBS This Morning and CNBC on Friday.

Sandberg, the social network's chief operating officer, told CBS This Morning that earning back people's trust will be hard, but that she and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will do "whatever it takes" to keep people safe on Facebook. (Editor's note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

Sandberg also responded to a recent op-ed from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who said Zuckerberg had too much power and that the company should be broken up.

"You could break us up, you could break other tech companies up, but you actually don't address the underlying issues people are concerned about," Sandberg told CNBC.

Facebook, along with other social media companies like Twitter and YouTube, has been called out for not doing enough to combat election meddling, misinformation and hate speech. Critics have also argued that Facebook's enormous power needs to be kept in check.

Sandberg acknowledged that users are concerned about privacy, but added that every one of Facebook's engineering and product teams now have systems in place focused on protecting people's privacy, according to CNBC.

When it comes to elections, Sandberg said Facebook is ready for 2020.

"We never foresaw Russian interference in the 2016 election ... and that's on us," she told CBS This Morning. "Going into the 2020 election, we have war rooms in place. We have a working relationship with the FBI and Homeland Security ... and we're all working together."

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On Friday, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said breaking up Facebook would be "a remedy of the very last resort." This may come as a surprise given that the European Union has typically been more heavy-handed than the US when it comes to regulating Silicon Valley tech companies. Vestager in particular has a reputation for coming down hard on US tech giants, thanks to record-breaking fines she's handed out to Amazon and Google. 

Originally published May 17, 9:19 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:49 a.m.: Adds comment from EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.