Apple’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook, shot a series of criticisms against Facebook, along with other social media companies, based on their approach to online privacy and disinformation.

“Too many are still asking the question ‘how much can we get away with?’ when we should be asking ‘what are the consequences?’” Cook said. “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 join extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends more?”

Cook, addressing Thursday’s virtual conference titled ‘Computers, Privacy and Data Protection’, stated that in order to succeed, technology did not require “vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps.”

“At 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,”

Although Tim Cook didn’t directly name any social media company at the event, it was still evident that his speech was aimed predominantly at Facebook. His criticism comes at a time when Apple is preparing to launch new, more secure privacy settings which gives users the option to decline data tracking.

However, the sparring isn’t one-sided. Facebook also took potshots at Apple, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg alleged that Apple’s new policies were rooted in self-interest instead of legitimate concern for people’s privacy.

“Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” he said.

“And I think that this dynamic is important for people to understand because we and others are going to be up against this for the foreseeable future.”


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