Facebook and Apple Are Beefing Over the Future of the Internet
Tim Cook blames Mark Zuckerberg for undermining democracy, too
Last July, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with the heads of Amazon, Apple and Google spent a& long day fielding heated questions from members of the House Antitrust Subcommittee. Did he realize at the time that the most immediate threat to his company’s business model would come not from Congress, but from one of the other executives at the hearing?
If he didn’t then, he does now. On Thursday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech explaining his company’s upcoming privacy changes, which will ban apps from sharing iPhone user behavior with third parties unless users give explicit consent. And he made plain that these new policies were designed at least in part with Facebook in mind. Speaking as part of a conference convened for International Data Privacy Day, Cook excoriated the social media business model, which is based on monitoring people’s behavior in order to target ads to them.
“The fact is that an interconnected ecosystem of companies and data brokers, of purveyors of fake news and peddlers of division, of trackers and hucksters just looking to make a quick buck, is more present in our lives than it has ever been,” he said. “Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed.” Cook didn’t mention Facebook by name, but he didn’t need to. It was perfectly clear who he had in mind when he posed rhetorical questions like “What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups, and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more?” It sounded like something out of the documentary The Social Dilemma—in fact, Cook used that exact phrase at one point.
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