Mark Zuckerberg is Wrong. Apple’s Privacy Stance is Genuine

3 minute read
| Editorial

In light of recent news, like Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg throwing shade at each other, I’d like to take a step back and examine both sides of the argument. The argument is: Does Apple actually care about your privacy? Mr. Zuckerberg (and certain Apple critics) would like you to believe that Apple’s privacy stance is just a marketing tactic. I don’t agree.

Tim Cook’s Remarks on Privacy

For several years now, Tim Cook has made allusions to certain companies in Silicon Valley that don’t respect the privacy of users. Reading between the lines, we all know he is referring to Google and Facebook. These two companies have built empires around advertising, the most effective type of which is targeted advertising, and that requires harvesting user data.

For example, in Mr. Cook’s recent interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher, when asked about Facebook in regards to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he felt that there should be more regulation when it comes to technology companies, saying:

This certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary…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.

Tim Cook at Auburn University. Tim explained Apple's privacy stance in multiple interviews.

In 2015, when Mr. Cook was honored by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), he spoke about privacy, security, and peoples’ right to encryption:

I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Remarks on Privacy

In response to Tim Cooks remarks in his 2018 interview, Mr. Zuckerberg fired back:

You know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib…And not at all aligned with the truth…If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something people can afford…I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome, and let the companies that work hard to charge you more, convince you that they actually care more about you,” he said. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.

That has been the standard argument in the tech market for years. If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. Companies have to make money somehow, and the usual way of making money is to sell your data.

Page 2: Apple’s Privacy History and What Steve Jobs Thought

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aardman
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aardman

What Facebook has essentially done is collected information that has given the most nefarious and shady operators such as Cambridge Analytica the ability to Gaslight a whole nation. He keeps saying that FB mishandled the data and allowed the wrong people to get it. No, no, no! That kind of data should never be gathered and stored in the first placed. Much less sold to vendors and ‘researchers’. In the same way that subliminal advertising is deemed to be harmful and banning it is not an assault on free speech, prohibiting the gathering of the type of information that makes… Read more »

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jhorvatic

Apple has always taken privacy far more serious than any other company in the World. They did not fight the FBI and the US government for encryption for no reason. Every policy they have privacy is part of it. Other companies like Google it might be marketing hype but not Apple.

wab95
Member
wab95

Andrew: First of all, congratulations on a well-written, thoughtful and evidence-supported editorial. This is the kind of high quality thought piece to that has become the stock and trade of TMO, and distinguishes the site from a majority of its competitor tech sites for not being the exception but the norm of its commentary and analyses. There is nothing more of substance to add here but a relevant observation. This week, Mark Zuckerberg appears before the US Senate and House on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, for testimony on not simply the exploitation of FB by Russian agents to influence the… Read more »

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NorthSaanichBC

Zuckerberg is lashing out in frustration (and hopefully also in embarrassment) at Tim Cook, knowing that he has been exposed again as being unethical and blatantly dishonest.

He is asking the world to trust him (again) despite his continually being revealed to be deceitful and deceptive, and his constant reluctance to make necessary changes to Facebook to protect user privacy.

vpndev
Member
vpndev

Apple has certainly left huge piles of money on the table because its privacy policies and I am firmly convinced that this was/is absolutely the right decision. I watched the Tim Cook discussion this evening (MSNBC/ReCode event) and was quietly bemused by Tim’s response to what he would do if he were Mark Zuckerberg right now. His too-gentle response was that “he would be in that situation”. I would have responded that “I would find a restroom for a change of underwear”. Unfortunately for FB, and fortunately for us, it is facing a double-whammy for which it is ill-prepared. Folks… Read more »

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

I too watched Tim on MSNBC. I have never watched NRA TV, but I will give it a “shot” to see what it is like before commenting on its appropriateness for being on Apple TV. Of course if Apple removed it, an ammosexual could always watch it on Safari.

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

Well I don’t see the NRA Channel on my Apple TV, maybe because I have on older model.

aardman
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aardman

Apple has left money on the table because it didn’t want to compromise on its privacy stance. For one thing, they’ve lagged in AI because they didn’t want to send personal info outside the device and into the cloud for (vastly more powerful) servers to do the heavy AI lifting. With all the information they could have gathered from the highest spending demographic of the tech customer population, they could easily make a killing selling data and ads to advertisers but they turned their back on that lucrative opportunity as well. So Tim Cook sounds a little eager to piss… Read more »

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

I well understand the privacy risks when using Facebook and am very careful not to use 3rd party Facebook apps, sign into websites with my Facebook account, and don’t join any of their sugggested groups. I do find the service handy for keeping in touch with out-of-area family and friends, making new friends, and such. Privacy aside I have issues with their horrid newsfeed algorithm. I often don’t see posts that I would want to see, but see shared crap that Facebook thinks that want to see no matter how many times I have clicked Hide Post. Choosing Show Recent… Read more »

geoduck
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geoduck

I just ignore the Facebook “newsfeed”. Even before they got hijacked by trolls in ’16 I knew they couldn’t be trusted.

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

Not the “news” that they link to, but the feed of people on my friends list

geoduck
Member
geoduck

Ah. Yes that is true too.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

Ah. Yes that is true. Like a stream of conciseness from someone with multiple personalities.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

Absolutely right. As the article says actions speak louder. Apple’s proactive stand against the FBI on implementing a back door is all the evidence I need to believe they are serious about privacy. It cost them points in Washington. It cost them reputation in the eyes of some, uninformed, citizenry. It may have even cost them some sales. But they did it because it was, and is, the right thing to do.

John Kheit
Member
John Kheit

Nice article Andrew. Agreed. If any one company cares about privacy in tech, it’s apple, and they are pretty lonely in that position.