The CEOs of two powerful tech firms are now in a war of words. Yes, you guessed it right; it is Mark Zuckerberg vs Tim Cook. Facebook’s CEO has finally responded to the comments made by Apple CEO over his company’s alleged involvement in the data sharing scandal.
The feud that pitted Mark Zuckerberg vs Tim Cook started last week, when Cook told Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that Apple would have made a “ton of money” by monetizing user data, but they “elected not to do that.” Further, according to Cook, privacy is a human right, and he said that Facebook should not collect as much user data as it does now.
“The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life — from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist,” Apple’s CEO said while speaking at the annual China Development Forum last week.
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Today the next shot was fired in the war of words pitting Mark Zuckerberg vs Tim Cook. Facebook’s CEO told Vox’s Ezra Klein that Cook’s take on the data-sharing scandal involving political data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica is “extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth.”
Facebook’s CEO also talked of the difference between Apple’s business model and that of his own company. Apple primarily relies on selling iPhones and iPads to customers rather than targeting users with ads based on their personal information. Facebook, on the other hand, is a free service, but it relies on ads for a major portion of its revenue.
“The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay,” Zuckerberg said.
This is the primary reason most of the media business is based on an ad-supported model, he said. The Facebook CEO also cited one more powerful tech CEO to support his argument.
Zuckerberg said Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had an “excellent saying on this” when launching the Kindle a few years ago: ‘There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.”
Based on Bezos’ words, Facebook is among the companies that work hard to offer a free service that all can use.
What Zuckerberg said is not totally wrong. Companies like Facebook and Google make money by learning as much as they can about users, while Apple earns by overcharging for its devices. Both business models have their pros and cons, but Apple’s model restricts it from interfering with user privacy.
Despite Zuckerberg’s defense, a truth that can’t be ignored is that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is a really big one, perhaps the biggest in Facebook’s history so far. The data-analytics firm was able to harvest the private data of over 50 million Facebook users using a fake “personality quiz.”
The battle of Mark Zuckerberg vs Tim Cook is also crucial because Cook also called for regulation, something that has the potential to impact Facebook’s earning potential. Cook last week said that the situation “is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”
Unlike Facebook, Apple previously has demonstrated its ability to make a strong decision when it comes to privacy. During the 2016 San Bernardino shooting incident, the iPhone maker refused the FBI’s request to unlock the shooter’s phone. At the time, the company faced widespread criticism for its decision.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has added further to the woes of the social networking giant, which was already facing scrutiny over the alleged use of the platform by Russian trolls to impact the U.S. presidential election. The data-sharing scandal has taken a toll on Facebook’s stock as well. The stock is down 13% since March 16, when the company first admitted to improper data sharing with Cambridge Analytica.
The social networking giant has lost over $70 billion in market value since then. Zuckerberg’s net worth has also taken a hit and is down more than $10 billion, notes The Daily Mail. The social networking giant is also facing a probe by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the coming weeks, Zuckerberg is also expected to testify on Capitol Hill after repeated calls from officials to do so. The platform is even facing a #DeleteFacebook protest.
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about this feud involving Mark Zuckerberg vs Tim Cook. The CEOs have engaged in a war of words over privacy issues before. In 2015, Apple’s CEO criticized Silicon Valley companies that offer free services, but with a hidden cost in the form of forfeiture of their personal data.
At the time, Zuckerberg responded by saying that Apple-like companies are not in “alignment” with the best interests of customers.
“If you were in alignment with them, then they’d make their products a lot cheaper,” he said.