Apple CEO Tim Cook Slams Facebook As A Platform That Breeds Violence And Polarization

Tim Cook
There's no love lost between Facebook and Apple. The two companies have been at odds with one another for years, with the respective CEOs throwing jabs in interview and through social media. The bad blood between the two has only magnified ever since Apple outlined new privacy guidelines at WWDC 2020 that would force companies to disclose how a customer's data is being used and let them opt-out of tracking in iOS 14.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out swinging at the policy earlier this week, stating that Apple is emerging as its biggest competitor. He also called out Apple's push for privacy, saying that the company has ulterior motives. "We have a lot of competitors who make claims about privacy that are often misleading," said Zuckerberg during Facebook's Wednesday earnings call.

"We are also seeing Apple's business depend more and more on gaining share in apps and services against us and other developers," he added. "So, Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own. And this impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world."

mark zuckerberg

Of course, Apple CEO Tim Cook takes issue with these claims, and is firing back that his company is well within its rights to protect the privacy of its users. "As I've said before, if we accept as normal that everything in our lives can be aggregated and sold, then that we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human," said Cook while speaking today at the European Computers, Privacy & Data Protection (CPDP) conference. Although he didn't mention Facebook by name, given Facebook's attack stance this week, there's no question who was in Cook's crosshairs.

"At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good and the longer the better," Cook continued. "It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn't come with a cost — of polarization, of lost trust and, yes, of violence."

apple facebook eff iphone

Cook went on to add that companies like Facebook are quickly moving down a slippery slope that could further erode the privacy of consumers in the future. "Will the future belong to the innovations that make our lives better, more fulfilled and more human," Cook questioned. "Or will it belong to those tools that prize our attention to the exclusion of everything else, compounding our fears and aggregating extremism, to serve ever-more-invasively-targeted ads over all other ambitions?"

This train of thought seems to be digging deep into Facebook's core business model, which is why Zuckerberg has such a distaste for Apple's privacy crackdown. "Call us naive, but we still believe that technology made by people, for people, and with people's well-being in mind, is too valuable a tool to abandon,” Cook explained. “We still believe that the best measure of technology is the lives it improves."

Do you feel that Apple is in the right here, and that protecting user privacy at all costs and giving them control on how their data is obtained is proper? Or is Facebook correct in its view that Apple is trying to stifle competition to prop up its own first-party products like iMessage and that its actions could put thousands of small firms in jeopardy due to lost ad revenue? Or maybe it’s a little bit of both? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.