BIG TECH CIVIL WAR: Apple and Facebook CEOs take shots at each other’s companies
01/29/2021 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

On Thursday, Jan. 28, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that Facebook's business model has real-world consequences and can often lead to incidents of violence. These remarks came just one day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg accused Apple of "abusing its dominance" in the tech industry.

Cook made his remarks during a speech at a data privacy conference in Brussels, Belgium. While he did not mention Facebook by name, it was clear that Zuckerberg's company was the target of Cook's speech. The latter stated that he was very concerned about how data is regularly harvested for targeted ads – something Facebook routinely does as part of 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 scorn," said Cook.

The Apple CEO further set his sights on the way Facebook's algorithms continuously recommend "extremist groups" and similarly dangerous content to its users in order to boost engagement. This is a practice that Facebook has already said it will scale back on by no longer automatically recommending political groups and pages. (Related: Apple lobbying Congress to weaken anti-forced labor bill so they can profit from China's SLAVE labor industry.)

"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," said Cook. "It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn't come with a cost – of polarization, of trust and, yes, of violence."


Cook pointed out that the apps of companies like Facebook, Google, Snapchat and others that rely on the "adtech" industry use on average at least six trackers that can watch and record the behavior of users even across apps.

"Users may not know whether the apps they use to pass the time, to check in with their friends, or to find a place to eat, may in fact be passing on information about the photos they've taken, the people in their contact list or location data that reflects where they eat, sleep or pray."

Apple versus Facebook feud is brewing

Cook's comments came just one day after Zuckerberg spoke at length about how Apple abused its position in the tech market to interfere with the way other big tech companies used their apps. This occurred during his company's latest earnings call with market analysts.

Facebook says Apple is "misleading users" regarding privacy and abusing its dominance in the tech industry

Zuckerberg was angered by Apple's introduction of a new iPhone feature known as the App Tracking Transparency, which forces apps to ask for the user's permission before accessing important device identifiers. These identifiers are regularly harvested by Facebook and other tech companies like Google, sometimes without the user's knowledge, for targeted advertising.

Zuckerberg claims that the release of the App Tracking Transparency and its "privacy-nutrition labels" was not done out of a sincere attempt to provide users with a simple way of protecting their data. Rather, the Facebook CEO believes it is in Apple's "competitive interest" to limit the ability of other companies to access data.

"Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own," said Zuckerberg. "And this impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world."

Zuckerberg argues that it was in Apple's best "competitive interests" to make the privacy changes. "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."

Facebook reportedly considering hitting Apple with antitrust suit

Zuckerberg considers Apple to be one of his biggest competitors. Due to Apple's so-called "anti-competitive" behavior, the Facebook CEO is reportedly considering filing an antitrust suit against it.

The suit, which was first reported by The Information on Thursday, alleges that Apple is using its position to enforce rules against outside developers that its own apps do not have to follow.

"As we have said repeatedly, we believe Apple is behaving anti-competitive by using their control of the App Store to benefit their bottom line at the expense of app developers and small businesses," said a company spokesperson.

Both Apple and Facebook are already dealing with government antitrust problems. The Department of Justice is investigating Apple's near-totalitarian control over the App Store. Meanwhile, Facebook is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission and state regulators for, ironically enough, alleged anti-competitive behavior.

"Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed," argued Cook during the data privacy conference. "Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it. And we're here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom."

The Information admits that Facebook may ultimately decide against filing an antitrust suit. But the hiring of outside legal counsel and the extensive legal preparations signal that this feud between the two big tech corporations won't be ending anytime soon.

Learn more about the relationships the different tech giants like Zuckerberg and Cook have with their competition by reading the latest articles at

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