Tim Cook’s privacy prescription for Facebook: Delete tons of user data

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By running anti-Apple ads in major newspapers, Facebook's taking its battle with Apple to the next level.
Cook is no big fan of Facebook.
Photo: Thought Catalog/Unsplash CC

Tim Cook reportedly shocked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when, during a July 2019 meeting, he told the social media magnate that he should delete all user data Facebook had gathered outside of its core apps.

According to The New York Times, the meeting between the two had been called to try and restore peace between the Silicon Valley tech giants. Zuck had asked cook how he should respond to the then-current Cambridge Analytica scandal, during which many users had had data gathered about them without express permission.

The article notes that:

“Mr. Zuckerberg had been blasted by lawmakers, regulators and executives — including Mr. Cook — for letting the information of more than 50 million Facebook users be harvested by a voter-profiling firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their consent.

At the meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg asked Mr. Cook how he would handle the fallout from the controversy, people with knowledge of the conversation said. Mr. Cook responded acidly that Facebook should delete any information that it had collected about people outside of its core apps.”

Facebook and Apple: A declining relationship

The NYT story charts the declining relationship between the two tech companies. As I’ve noted before, Apple and Facebook go way back together. Apple was actually Facebook’s first recurring source of revenue, by sponsoring an Apple page on the-then fledgling site. Steve Jobs mentored Zuckerberg to some degree. The two went on walks together, and even discussed Apple’s foray into social networking, Ping, over dinner.

Things have been much frostier under Cook. According to the Monday news story:

“The relationship between the chief executives has become increasingly chilly, people familiar with the men said.”

The origins of this degraded relationship reportedly started in 2010. This was over discussions regarding a “potential software partnership.” They eventually led to a software feature whereby iPhone owners could share photos directly to Facebook, but potentially not without setting a more combative tone between the companies. It continues:

“By 2014, Facebook executives had grown fearful of the leverage that Apple had over the distribution of its apps with iPhone customers. Those concerns were compounded when Apple at times delayed updates of Facebook’s apps through its App Store, said people familiar with the matter.”

The relationship between the two now seems to be at an all-time low. The new iOS 14.5 App Tracking Transparency feature is one that Facebook believes seriously undercuts its business. It has already taken out newspaper ads blasting Apple for the move. Apple, for its part, refused to change it. While Facebook has said it is in a “good position” regarding these changes, it seems the relationship between the two companies is extremely damaged.

What’s your take on the Facebook vs. Apple battle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: New York Times