Facebook’s chief executive took issue with recent comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who criticized Facebook’s privacy practices amid a scandal around its data practices and the social network’s role in political campaigns.
As a quick refresher, Cook called for technology privacy regulations and criticize Facebook’s stance on privacy on two separate occasions in the past week. Asked what he would do if he were standing in Zuck’s shoes, Cook told Recode’s Kara Swisher that he “wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Zuckerberg has now called Cook’s comments “extremely glib.”
He added on on the latest episode of Vox’s “The Ezra Klein Show” podcast that just because Facebook doesn’t charge a premium on its products like Apple does and offers ad-supported services for free doesn’t mean it doesn’t care about its users.
Here’s the full quote:
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 at all aligned with the truth. 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.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.
But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford.
He went on to quote Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who said during one of his Kindle launches that “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” Facebook, of course, provides a free service that everyone can use and Mark doesn’t think that means they 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,” he added. “Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”
For context, here’s how Apple’s chief executive described “Tim Cook Privacy Doctrine” when discussing Apple and privacy with Kara Swisher:
We care about the user experience. And we’re not going to traffic in your personal life. I think it’s an invasion of privacy. I think it’s—privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty, and in something that is unique to America, this is like freedom of speech and freedom of the press and privacy is right up there for us. And so, we’ve always done this. This is not something that we just started last week when we saw something happening. We’ve been doing this for years.
The Apple CEO also said speaking at the annual China Development Forum last week that from his own point of view “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life shouldn’t exist.”
Cook previously argued that most free, ad-driven services basically strive to monetize users by selling their data to the highest bidder. “When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,” Cook wrote in an open letter in September 2014.