CEO criticizes monetization of customers’ personal information
Cook says the time for self-regulation is past
Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, issued a harsh rebuke of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s business model on Wednesday, saying that detailed profiles of individuals compiled by internet platforms should not exist.
“We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers, if our customers were our product,” Cook said in an interview with Recode and MSNBC that will air on 6 April. “We’ve elected not to do that … We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.”
Cook also said that it is past time to regulate Facebook. “I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”
The comment echoed remarks Cook made in Beijing last week, when he said: “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”
Facebook has received a deluge of criticism in the wake of the Observer’s reporting that the personal information of 50 million American users was used by the electioneering firm Cambridge Analytica.
But Cook has been sounding the alarm on mass data collection by Facebook and Google for years. The executive has long pointed to the distinction between Apple’s business model – selling products to customers for a profit – and that of internet platforms that are “gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it”, as he said in 2015.
That business model has been extraordinarily profitable for Facebook and Google, but the companies are now facing a reckoning from consumers waking up to the sheer volume of information being collected from them – and concerned about who might be using it and how.
Cook is not the only Silicon Valley CEO to take aim at Facebook during its time of troubles. On Friday, Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages for two of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
Cook, 57, did not have any suggestions for how Zuckerberg should address the fallout from the privacy scandal. Asked what he would do if he were Zuckerberg, Cook shot back: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”