With iOS 14.5, which Apple will release today, iPhone owners will have the option to explicitly choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps. A new profile from the New York Times today elaborates on how Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook became foes due to Apple’s privacy push.
Two years ago, in July 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a private meeting at the annual conference held by the investment bank Allen & Company. At that time, Facebook was having trouble with the Cambridge Analytica scandal for letting the information of more than 50 million of its users be harvested by a voter-profiling firm 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. Mr. Zuckerberg was stunned, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.”
While Facebook and Apple had a good relationship for a few years, that changed from the moment the social network grew and began to collect data from users in an indiscriminatory way. By 2018, Tim Cook was already pushing privacy as a “fundamental human right,” and since then the Apple CEO has criticized Facebook in almost all interviews related to this subject.
In an interview with MSNBC in 2018, Cook was questioned about a Facebook scandal and what would he do if he were in Zuckerberg’s shoes, saying “I wouldn’t be in this situation,” to roaring audience laughter and applause.
This year, while speaking at the EU data protection conference CPDP, Cook gave the opening keynote with his talk entitled “A path to empowering user choice and boosting user trust in advertising.” He touched on a variety of concerning issues Apple sees when it comes to privacy and security across the technology industry.
At the time, Cook didn’t call out Facebook by name, but he condemned its business model:
“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, it does not deserve our praise, it deserves reform.”
More recently, in April, Cook was interviewed by the New York Times’s Kara Swisher. In this interview, he talked about the App Tracking Transparency changes and was asked about Facebook calling this feature an “existential crisis” for their business.
“All we’re doing, Kara, is giving the user the choice whether to be tracked or not. And I think it’s hard to argue against that. I’ve been shocked that there’s been pushback on this to this degree.”
With ATT rolling out today, we have to wait and see how this is going to impact Facebook’s and other apps as well as how it’s going to impact customers.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.