Zuckerberg fires back at Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Facebook criticism

By @chelean on
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, appears on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., September 27, 2015. Reuters/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Mark Zuckerberg has fired back at Tim Cook. The Facebook co-founder has responded to the Apple Inc. CEO’s jibe that the tech giant wouldn’t be in the same situation as the social media website, which is still reeling from its Cambridge Analytica scandal.

During an MSNBC interview last month, Cook took a swipe at Zuckerberg’s management of Facebook apps. Zuckerberg has been under fire since it was revealed that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica collected user information using an app on Facebook.

When asked what he would have done if he were in Zuckerberg’s place, Cook answered, "I wouldn’t be in this situation." He was referring to the strict Apple review process that every app using the platform must be checked in detail. He also said that while it would have been more profitable for Apple to sell users’ information, the company doesn’t do that as it values human privacy.

In an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, Zuckerberg was asked if Facebook’s problem is its business model. Klein mentioned Cook’s comment about Facebook’s scandal and about how Apple has a sounder business model that avoids such problems.

“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 all aligned with the truth,” the 33-year-old billionaire replied. “The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.”

Zuckerberg also dragged another rich guy into the discussion. “I thought Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He said, ‘There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less,’” Zuckerberg said, referring to the Amazon founder. “And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.”

He continued, “I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people. To the contrary, 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. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”

Zuckerberg also talked about Facebook’s inability to prevent disinformation from spreading online. He accepted the criticism that the company had somehow inadvertently allowed false materials on the website because it lacks understanding of how to prevent such things.

“It’s tough to be transparent when we don’t first have a full understanding of where the state of the systems [is]. In 2016, we were behind having an understanding and operational excellence on preventing things like misinformation, Russian interference. And you can bet that’s a huge focus for us going forward.”

Facebook’s share fell about US$40 billion (AU$52 billion) immediately following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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