Facebook’s Zuckerberg slams Apple CEO Tim Cook over ‘ridiculous’ comments about customers

“The story of Facebook’s first decade was one of relentless, rapacious growth, from a dorm-room side project to a global service with 8,000 employees and 1.35 billion users, on whose unprotesting backs Zuckerberg has built an advertising engine that generated $7.87 billion last year, a billion and a half of it profit,” Lev Grossman reports for TIME Magazine.

“I asked him about Ello, an upstart for-pay social network built on the premise that it doesn’t show you ads and doesn’t harvest your personal information. When a social network does those things, Ello’s manifesto argues, ‘You’re the product that’s being bought and sold,'” Grossman reports. “Zuckerberg’s take was, as usual, practical: whatever ethical merits it might have, the business model won’t scale. ‘Our mission is to connect every person in the world. You don’t do that by having a service people pay for.’ I suggest that Facebook’s users are paying, just with their attention and their personal information instead of with cash. A publicist changes the subject.”

“But before that happens Zuckerberg also notes — and it was the only time I saw him display irritation — that Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote something similar in September in a statement spelling out Apple’s privacy policy: ‘When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,'” Grossman reports. “The shot was probably meant for Google, but Facebook was definitely in the blast radius. ‘A frustration I have is that a lot of people increasingly seem to equate an advertising business model with somehow being out of alignment with your customers,’ Zuckerberg says. ‘I think it’s the most ridiculous concept. What, you think because you’re paying Apple that you’re somehow in alignment with them? If you were in alignment with them, then they’d make their products a lot cheaper!'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple doesn’t make junk. That’s why their products aren’t priced like junk. Great customer experiences aren’t cheap. The price of Apple products has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the company is more aligned with their customers than the insatiable Facebook/Google data leeches are with their hosts, err… “customers.”

An advertising business model can be in alignment with customers until it goes too far, crossing the creepy line in invasion of privacy.

On September 18th, Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted an open letter on Apple.com. Here it is, verbatim:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled.

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud.

We believe in telling you up front exactly what’s going to happen to your personal information and asking for your permission before you share it with us. And if you change your mind later, we make it easy to stop sharing with us. Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience.

We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn’t get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.


Apple’s “Privacy” webpages are here.

Source: Apple Inc.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Seeking personal data, Walmart, Best Buy, and others won’t let shoppers enjoy Apple Pay privacy – October 27, 2014
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple thinks different about privacy – September 23, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014


  1. I think Zuck is confusing the terms ‘users’ and ‘customers’ to be the same and is using them interchangeably.

    The users are people like you and I.
    The customers are companies looking to pay money in exchange for advertising and data.

    1. Was Zuckerberg even responding to Cook’s comment? He didn’t seem to acknowledge that Facebook’s users are not paying customers and Facebook’s advertisers are their actual customers.

      That whole “being in alignment with your customers” and “make products a lot cheaper” seems really tangential. Facebook might be in great alignment and have cheap prices with their advertisers – but does that have anything to do with Facebook users?

    2. As if a half-assed programmer’s opinion on the price of Apple’s hardware matter one whit…

      Tim’s comment kinda struck home, didn’t it Zuckerberg?! Your “products” will eventually find a new home on the Internet and your plan to connect everyone in the world will crash.

      1. I hate blatant and arrogant attitudes by anyone, period. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you hate just as hard on non-geeks who exhibit such behaviour.

        1. True geeks in general are just socially much worse with little ability for politeness and having impaired social skills despite maybe higher IQ. I call them high IQ morons. In a lot of respects being too smart is a curse for some.

          1. You’re not wrong, but I’ve seen far more of the blatant arrogance coming from your traditional type-A people. They are no more polite than the geeks, but they have enough social skills, tact and charisma to fool you into thinking otherwise.

            Example: any blowhard politician mouthing off about stuff they know nothing about.

  2. ‘Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for in plain english and repeatedly, that’s what it means. I am an optimist I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do, ask them, ask them every time, make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of you asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data, that’s what we think.’

    ‘Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.’

  3. MDN: The price of Apple products has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the company is more aligned with their customers than the insatiable Facebook/Google data leeches are with their hosts, err… “customers.”

    This is exactly the point Zuckerberg made. Cook was the one who equated price with alignment, Zuckerberg refuted that, and MDN agrees with Zuckerberg with a tone that suggests it doesn’t.

    1. But you missed the irony of Zuckerberg’s statement: Facebook is NOT aligned with its users, it is aligned with its advertisers and Wall Street. After all, how does Facebook pay for its 8,000 employees? Ad dollars. And why do companies pay for ad space on Facebook? Consumer data, that stuff you provide to Facebook and the stuff you don’t, such as which posts you Like, click on, follow, etc.

      So how is Apple different? With Apple you buy a product (iPhone) and it comes with certain features, software, benefits (like free iCloud). Apple does not collect nor sell your personal data. Facebook and Google do.

  4. What a buffoon, rich maybe but definitely without any morals. Yes, certainly an entity that wishes to safeguard people’s privacy is viewed to be “ridiculous” by the many date miners.

      1. No, Georgie, I didn’t say I disagree with Apple being expensive. I do think their products are expensive, but I personally don’t agree with you or Zuckerberg that they’re products are “too” expensive. That was my point. Alas, you failed to see this. And a pointless attempt at trolling on your behalf…

    1. Can’t say I’m on board with this. Apple has a track record of coldly disregarding customers it no longer sees as profitable (pro video industry being a key example).

        1. Apple has never stated that customer is king. They have publicly stated that making the best tech out there is their king. The kind of tech that the most people (geeks, salespeople, normals, technophobes, and all the many stripes at Apple) want to use themselves.

          Not always a friendly policy to the customer, but always a policy that will keep them at or near the top of the tech curve and thus relevant and profitable.

          In the long run, Facebook will die, they already have shown that they can’t stay on top of the curve (think, twitter, snap chat, etc.) Apple will not die. I said it back in the late 1990’s and will say it again. Apple has too much internal drive and creativity to invent at or near the top of the tech curve with both software and hardware combined, because of this they will not die. The only death is when they loose this drive and rest on their laurels and profits (think IBM, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Sony – and soon Facebook).

      1. Dumb comment. So Apple should have kept producing the Pippin, even though it wasn’t making money on it?

        Any business creates products to sell and at some point discontinues those products for business reasons. Obviously the pro video industry (to take you example) wasn’t large enough and didn’t produce enough profits to make further investment by Apple worthwhile, so Apple got out.

      2. You’re so very wrong. FINAL CUT PRO X is just as professional as ever. Even more so today. I’ll criticise Apple for the way they realised it nearly 3 and a half years ago, but I’ll happily applaud them for making an excellent pro video editing tool, which goes from strength to strength. At first I personally didn’t like the changes Apple made, choosing to stay with FCP7 for as long as possible. But I eventually learned a bit, then a lot more of FCPX. And it’s now all I use. I’ve cut commercials, short films, and low budget features, and have had very few issues. It’s not for everyone, I agree, but Apple, I think, has not abonadoned the video pros…

  5. Advertising is a cancer, and companies that exploit their users to increase advertising revenue deserve all the scorn they receive from those who know what game these companies are really playing.

      1. I take that back, THIS is the laugh of the 21st century:

        ” The Wall Street Journal recently noted how former NSA deputy director John C. Inglis called out tech companies for not being transparent about how they collect the public’s data.”

  6. Ahhh….hit a nerve Mark?

    Well Mark, I suggest you try and make a physical product that people love. Tim is right and you obviously didn’t like to be called out that you are a data miner that sell’s personal info to the highest bidders just like Google.

    I’m sorry but I think Facebook is slowly dying just like MySpace is/did and you know it.

    1. Mark already makes a product that people love. Why do you insist that it be physical? Facebook gives people something they want and they do it for free.
      Tim Cook, on the other hand, charges you double for what he gives you and he doesn’t even give you everything you want.

      1. Really?

        Who exactly “loves” Facebook other then some lonely housewives? I personal don’t know anyone who does and even my kids no longer use it.
        FB is getting old and honestly it’s heyday was on the desktop, not mobile. It’s SUCKS ON MOBILE and people are starting to get their personal information is being sold.
        The reason I suggested “physical” was because they are completely different business models. Ah, what does Facebook know about global manufacturing, shipping and retail?


        Oh and your comment about charging double and not getting everything is pretty freak’n thin. Apple seems to be doing just fine selling their over priced junk. /s

  7. Facebook’s goal is not to connect everyone on earth to one another.
    It is to connect everyone on earth with advertisers and get paid doing it.
    Facebook’s customers are the advertisers,not the people using it.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. I always laugh at that absurd, naive, dated goal of theirs. It almost seems to try for dumb so that they appear harmless, like Google’s ‘don’t be evil.’ Your rephrasing makes it fit with their company logic, especially considering that they keep shadow profiles on non-users to market.

  8. I crack up at the dissonance between the contemptuous way Fuckerberg regarded Facebook users as cattle and his noble altruistic posture when his pernicious, data-scraping ways are brought into the light. What a warped creepy person. Nearly as bad as the Google boys and Bezos. But I think the wheel is turning, what with mobile devices whose data is better contained, as well as the public’s heightened awareness of privacy and encryption. Largely thanks to Apple.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.