Tim Cook, Apple CEO, may have just ended Facebook.
Apple shared a speech, on Tuesday, by CEO Tim Cook on its main YouTube channel.. The speech, which Cook gave at the European Union’s virtual Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference last week, focused on the importance of privacy…but that wasn’t it.
Cook went on the offensive against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in direct response to Facebook’s recent attack on Apple, in which the world’s largest social network took out full-page ads in several newspapers attacking Apple’s new privacy changes.
But what’s most fascinating is that Cook took direct aim at Facebook without ever mentioning the company by name.
Just check out the following excerpt:
“Technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it, and we’re here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom.
“If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.
“We should not look away from the bigger picture. In 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 engagement, the longer the better, and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible.
“Too many are still asking the question ‘How much can we get away with?’ when they need to be asking ‘What are the consequences?’
#DataPrivacyDay comes at a time of great challenge, underscoring the critical role privacy and security play in our lives—from safeguarding your health & financial data to guarding against algorithms that perpetuate rampant misinformation. We need transparency and reform.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 28, 2021
“What are the consequences of prioritizing conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of the high rates of engagement?
“What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations?
“What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users joining extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more?
“It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cost. A polarization of lost trust, and yes, of violence.
“A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe.”
The fact that Cook doesn’t name Facebook only increases its impact. Because as you hear Cook’s ‘s speech, you can’t help but immediately think of the house that Zuckerberg built.
The reality is these two tech giants have been heading toward a major conflict for quite some time…
Apple is a lifestyle brand. And part of the lifestyle Apple sells is users having more control over their privacy.
Facebook, on the other hand, is in the data business. The more data it collects on users, the more effectively it can sell targeted ads.
But collecting and selling all that data comes at great cost, as Cook highlights. “The end result of all of this is that you are no longer the customer,” said Cook. “You are the product.”
Cook also gave an interview to Fast Company soon after the speech, once again focusing on the company’s commitment to privacy. Cook described privacy as an issue with consequences as dire as climate change:
“In terms of privacy—I think it is one of the top issues of the century,” he tells me. “We’ve got climate change—that is huge. We’ve got privacy—that is huge. . . . And they should be weighted like that and we should put our deep thinking into that and to decide how can we make these things better and how do we leave something for the next generation that is a lot better than the current situation.”