Apple CEO Tim Cook claims Facebook’s personalized ads cause violence

Apple CEO Tim Cook claims Facebook’s personalized ads cause ‘violence and polarization’ in the latest round of the Silicon Valley battle over privacy

  • Cook was speaking at a virtual conference out of Brussels on Thursday 
  • He has long criticized the use of targeted advertising which Facebook and millions of other businesses – large and small – rely on 
  • In the spring, Apple will roll out iOS 14 which will harm this type of advertising
  • Apps will need to get express permission from users to be served personal ads
  • It will shrink their advertising audience size and therefore shrink their profits 
  • Mark Zuckerberg is fighting it, claiming it will harm not only Facebook but small businesses too
  • He is calling Apple’s approach self-serving and anti-competitive  

Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed on Thursday that Facebook’s personalized ads cause real world violence in the latest round of the raging war over profits and privacy in Silicon Valley. 

Apple is preparing to roll out iOs 14 that will make it more difficult for Facebook and everyone else to run targeted, personalized ads on people’s phones and iPads. They say it’s to protect consumers who never know just how much of their information is being exploited. 

Facebook is fighting it, claiming Apple is only pretending to operate in the interests of consumers when in fact the move would significantly boost their profits because it would drive people further away from non-Apple apps and products. 

It is arguing that while it will hurt its business, it could destroy that of smaller online retailers who rely on personalized ads for profit. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the move ‘self-serving’.

He says that the new update will drive people away from Facebook messenger and WhatsApp and towards Apple’s iMessage, which is built in on all of its products. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are at war over Apple's plan to add new privacy feature which will make it harder for businesses - including Facebook - to target users

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are at war over Apple’s plan to add  new privacy feature which will make it harder for businesses – including Facebook – to target users 

Google is staying out of the fight. It is already the default search engine on all Apple products – a luxury it pays Apple $9billion a year for. 

This is what it will look like on the Apple update when apps ask for your permission to 'track' - meaning deliver targeted ads

This is what it will look like on the Apple update when apps ask for your permission to ‘track’ – meaning deliver targeted ads

On Thursday, Cook was taking part in a virtual conference about privacy when he made the remarks about Facebook and violence. 

He didn’t name them, nor did he give examples of the ‘violence’ the ad model causes, but said: ‘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. It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t cover the costs of polarization, of lost trust, of violence. 

‘A social dilemma cannot be allowed to cause a social catastrophe.’ 

Earlier this week Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would no longer recommend political groups to any of its users in light of the Capitol riot on January 6.  

The Apple update is expected to be rolled out in March or April. It will involve users having to opt-in to apps gaining access to what they have been browsing for online, which will drive down targeted advertising and, as a result, the profits of business that rely on it. 

It threatens Facebook’s bottom line, along with that of countless others. 

Facebook and Apple both had bumper profit years. 

Facebook’s profits soared by 53 per cent last year compared to 2019 and Apple reported $100 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Apple’s ‘AppTracking Transparency’ update that will eviscerate online ads 

Apple’s update essentially forces users to consent to being targeted ads by businesses rather than automatically receiving them as a result of their browsing history. 

It gives consumers more control over what types of ads they are served but has the potential to knee-cap businesses that rely on this type of advertising to make money. 

The update is part of the iOs 14 software update that is due sometime in the spring.  

Apple describes it in the following way: ‘Starting with the upcoming beta update, you’ll need to receive the user’s permission through the AppTrackingTransparency framework to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier.

‘Tracking refers to the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes. 

‘Tracking also refers to sharing user or device data with data brokers.’

Tracking for ads does not mean geographically tracking users through their devices. 

What it does, is allows businesses to see what types of products they are interested in based on their own searches, and serve them content that matches. 

Apple was going to roll out the update sooner but after backlash from Silicon Valley, the company delayed it to give titans like Facebook time to prepare. 

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that Apple’s privacy changes will harm Facebook’s profits next year. 

‘iMessage is a key linchpin of their ecosystem. 

‘It comes pre-installed on every iPhone and they preference it with private APIs and permissions, which is why iMessage is the most used messaging service in the U.S. 

‘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.

‘Apple may say they’re doing this to help people but the moves clearly track their competitor interests.  

‘We and others are going to be up against this for the foreseeable future.’

He has previously described it as ‘self-serving’ and ‘anti-competitive.’ 

Facebook itself has been accused of being anti-competitive and monopolistic in its reign of the internet. 

Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger all fall under the brand. 

Zuckerberg has resisted criticism of his own monopoly.

On Wednesday, he said Apple was Facebook’s biggest competitor.  


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