Mark Zuckerberg should have listened to Steve Jobs’ privacy advice

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Steve Jobs dropped some knowledge on Zuck.
Photo: Joi Ito/Flickr CC

Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are wrapped up in controversy over the social network’s link to data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

The alleged data abuse has caused an outcry among both the public and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including one of the co-founders of WhatsApp and Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk. But it may not have come to this had Zuckerberg followed a piece of advice laid out by Steve Jobs back in 2010.

Jobs made the comments the year before he passed away, during The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD conference. At that juncture, Facebook already faced user concerns about how it dealt with privacy and user data.

Jobs starts by pointing out that not everyone in Silicon Valley thinks alike on privacy. Apple “always had a very different view of privacy” than many of its cohorts, he said. Jobs then laid out his strongly held views on privacy — which even went so far as risking annoying users by forcing them to answer questions about the sharing of their data:

“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.”

Steve Jobs: An unofficial mentor for Mark Zuckerberg

As with many young, high-profile Silicon Valley executives, Zuckerberg received unofficial mentoring from Jobs early in his career. “I had a lot of questions for him,” Zuckerberg said during an interview with Charlie Rose back in 2011. The topics included “how to build a team around you that’s focused on building as high quality and good things as you are,” he said.

Right at the start of Facebook’s existence (so far back that it was still called Thefacebook), Apple was responsible for one of the biggest cash influxes in the company’s history. To gain a foothold in colleges by offering promotions and discounts, Apple sponsored a group on the site by agreeing to pay $1 per month for every user who joined — with a monthly minimum of $50,000.

Later on, Jobs and Zuckerberg took walks together, and once discussed Apple’s foray into social networking, Ping, over dinner. Jobs even suggested that Zuck follow in his footsteps by making a pilgrimage to India.

Ironically, when Apple engaged in its privacy-oriented standoff with the FBI in 2016, Facebook sided with Apple on the pro-privacy side.

Relations between Apple and Facebook weren’t always good

Nonetheless, relations between the two companies haven’t always been so good. Zuck disagreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s assertion that “you’re the product” for companies that base their revenue on user data. The Facebook CEO lashed out at this concept, calling it “ridiculous.” (He also knocked Apple for pricing its products so highly.)

Jobs also supposedly referred to the Facebook founder as a “****ing a**hole” after a particularly heated spat.

Still, we totally think Zuckerberg should have learned a valuable lesson from Jobs and followed his advice. We guess you live and you learn!

Source: Independent Journal Review