Facebook, Google, and Amazon are getting even creepier

“Here’s Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and his description of how Apple can be differentiated from other technology giants: ‘When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product,'” Kate MacKenzie writes for PixoBebo. “Obviously, Cook’s statement was aimed at the likes of Google, Facebook, and to a lesser extent Amazon, but the clarity is pure Apple.”

“Apple has hundreds of millions of customers and works diligently to satisfy their needs. Google and Facebook’s customers are advertisers,” MacKenzie writes. “Though financially successful, there’s an obvious misalignment going on; a strange conflation of user, customer, and product, sufficient that executives from Google, Facebook, and Amazon don’t want you to know about, and will defend any attempts to publicize it, up to and including the spread of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD).”

“Modern technology giants, in this case Google, Facebook, and to a slightly lesser extent, Amazon, have disrupted the once clear differentiation between users, customers, and products,” MacKenzie writes. “In other words, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are becoming more creepy.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The information that some people give to Facebook is nothing short of stupefying.

MacDailyNews Take: 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.

Tim

Apple’s “Privacy” webpages are here.

Related articles:
Facebook’s Zuckerberg slams Apple CEO Tim Cook over ‘ridiculous’ comments about customers – December 5, 2014
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

29 Comments

    1. We lost you on our preferential mailing list. Do you still want it in Cyrillic? Many of our party members have been dropping off the list and we appreciate your long standing membership.

  1. thing is, google and facebook have no choice but to monetize user data. Would you pay money for Facebook or any service that Google provides? hell no!
    The problem is they have no limit or bounds on what they will do so its best to be very careful with what you share and what you use to stop them tracking your every movement around the web.

    1. And there is the problem. Advertisers are billed by Google and the others for the clicks on the ads. The search is already supported by companies wanting to be at the top of the search and down the side. The fact that companies like Google use your prior searches to fill your web pages with other ads is disturbing on many levels. For example) If you search for something that I payed Google for when you chose to click on my ad. Now, Google is giving my competition your information and also placing their ads on your screen for many days. What is that about! I paid Google for the viewer’s click to my web sight. Why are they now trying to send you somewhere else? Did I not pay them for my ad being posted on their search engine. Google remember your “Do no evil”.

      1. Will, you might want to read your Apple user agreements again. Apple does use your data for marketing, for iAds, and so forth. Maps and beacons are constantly monitoring your location to feed you to advertisers. iCloud — which is more of a drug push for subscription-based computing than a free service — doesn’t even guarantee you won’t lose your data.

        I don’t know why everyone here gives Apple a free pass. Cook can posture all he wants, but the legal agreement that Apple has everyone accept to use many of its free services are no less intrusive than any other corporation. READ THE FINE PRINT, PEOPLE.

        1. Mike, the fine print is what you agree to allow Apple to do… it is not a description of what they do.

          Informed people here are not giving Apple a free pass. They are relating the differences in their own experiences between what Google does with their activities and what Apple does with their activities.

          If you want, go to maps.google.com and spend 20 minutes planning road routes from point a to point b. Then do some searches on google for gas stations, restaurants and hotels along the way. Then visit a site you frequent that uses google ads. Watch how those ads change to reflect your upcoming road trip.

          1. jt016, please explain the practical difference between what “you agree to allow Apple to do” and what Apple does. There’s a reason Apple lawyers put those phrases in there. Just because you don’t open your eyes to the fact that iAds are shoved down your throat doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t in the advertising business. Since Cook took the helm, Apple has scurried to copy Google’s every move.

            Consider this, directly from https://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/icloud/en/terms.html :

            “You acknowledge that Apple is not responsible or liable in any way for any Content provided by others and has no duty to pre-screen such Content. However, Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.”

            In other words, Apple not only has the right to datamine your files, if they don’t like it they can delete it from your iCloud without prior notice.

            I suspect some of you might be singing a different tune if and when Apple decides to yank your files. The agreement would be fine if Apple granted reasonable prior warning, or if iCloud guaranteed that it always had a redundant backup like your local Time Machine on your Mac, but such is not the case. The iCloud, like iBeacon and many iOS apps, is more like a Google product than a user-focused Mac product that guarantees reliability and privacy.

            1. There’s a huge difference. For Google, it’s basically all they do. For Apple it’s a minuscule part of their business on a very small footprint of their products. For Google, it’s everywhere. Their intrusion into our lives is orders of magnitude worse than Apple’s. It’s more than creepy.

            2. Mike, reviewing what you put into your photo stream for objectionable content is not at all the same as “datamining” — if you really read it that way then I suggest you talk to a lawyer friend over a drink when you’re not being charged.

              Apple’s lawyers work really hard to limit the risk to the company that is posed by letting users supply content. That’s all that passage you quoted is saying. Similar passages (“Usage”) on services like Facebook and CafePress tell you they will use the information provided by you to “enhance your experience” and other verbiage that is (nowadays) understood to mean “target you to our advertisers.”

              I don’t really understand where iAds are “shoved down your throat” — given that Apple has no say in the apps you download, it’s the app developer who is shoving something down your throat, and then it’s really you who allows it if you keep using the app!

              Lastly, why do you suppose it is that people *aren’t* singing a different tune about their files being lost? Could it because it hasn’t happened? Do you really think Apple wants the black-eye of losing people’s stuff? On the other hand, do you really think Apple wants any liability associated with losing your stuff? Of course they don’t, so the lawyers put in CYA language. If you don’t like that something could cause your free storage to get wiped, go buy storage from a service that offers guarantees (yeah, I know there’s an integration issue; but you’re looking for guarantees associated with free services).

            3. “In other words, Apple not only has the right to datamine your files, if they don’t like it they can delete it from your iCloud without prior notice.”

              Mike, “content” is NOT what is in your files. Content is what is specifically defined by Apple as material “provided by others” that you will be looking at. NOT your materials. Quit reading into the statement something that is not there. Nor does it say that Apple will be deleting files from “your iCloud account” without notice. Mike, Apple cannot even ACCESS your iCloud account without your username and entangled passcode. How are they going to data mine them?????

              You don’t know how to connect dots very well do you?

    1. When you buy a Apple product, you know what the deal is — a certain amount of money for a phone or computer. That’s it. You’re done. Google’s and Facebook’s empire exists on smoke and mirrors — they depend on the fact that most people don’t read the user agreements.

      At least with old network television, the Neilson people used to pay households to be tracked for a limited amount of time. Everything was up-front. You knew you were being tracked for that month. If Google and Facebook openly said, in a short paragraph, “We will let you use our software without charge if you agree that we can track your every move, cull your email, and own your photos and texts… and sell this data to advertisers who will in tern send you ads,” most people would opt out.

      Facebook and Google know that, so they rules of the game are hidden in verbose agreements, under the banner of “It’s free!!”

      Sure, some people would accept being the product in exchange for “free,” software, but at least they would know what the deal was up front.

      That’s the issue, if you ask me.

  2. I use Fb extensively, but you’d struggle to find out any significant information about me, other than I love music and take lots of gig and landscape photos.
    There is no personal info posted, and I’m sometimes staggered at what some people will happily divulge about themselves.
    It’s perfectly possible to use Fb without risk.
    If you’re not completely stupid.

    1. Yes, it’s incredibly naïve what some people put up on Facebook. One extreme case in point is the tie in between some airline companies’ iOS apps and Facebook. They actually have a pop up or screen that once you’ve checkedin to leave on your flight or arrived at your destination asks if you want to post that information to Facebook.

      Sure. I want the entire world to know that I’m half way across the planet and no one is at home. It is tantamount to telling every burglar in my home city, “I’m away from my home for the next few days! Please come and take anything you want!”

      And, if you have any “friends” on Facebook, you have virtually zero control over what they post to your page. You either block them or not. If you don’t block them, they can post details about you, or start discussions about you, over which you have virtually zero control.

      So, IMHO, it absolutely is NOT “… perfectly possible to use Fb without risk.” The only way to have absolutely 100% control over what goes onto your Facebook page is to not have one.

      1. Even if you don’t use Facebook people know and friends can post stuff about on Facebook so it doesn’t matter if you use it or not. So not using Facebook doesn’t really grant more privacy or security.

    1. Dude! You haven’t already??!? You gotta get with the program, man. I mean, The Verge said that all the kewl hipsters are like doing that, logging their bowel movements on FB and stuff. It’s the shizzle, man. And if The Verge sez dat, then it’s gotta be awesome.

      Thea’s also a growing colon cleanse movement on FB too. It’s not too late to clean up your act, if ha know what I mean. So get on FB and start logging after every dump. That way, Zuckerberg can keep track of that and sell that information to the NSA, Charmin and Preparation H. After all, Zuck has that fancy new estate he’s building on Kauai, and erecting a sonic fence along its perimeter, as well as setting up machine gun pillboxes to guard it, will cost beaucoup bucks, dude. So pitch in and start logging!

  3. Here’s economist Tyler Cowen’s take on the matter that some of you might appreciate:

    “Zuckerberg is only partially correct. Apple and Facebook both want to maximize profits but for Apple a key element in profit is increasing price above cost. Zuckerberg’s point is that one way of doing that is to take advantage of market power and raise price against the interests of customers. But Apple’s market power isn’t a given, it’s a function of the quality of Apple’s products relative to its competitors. Thus, Apple has a significant incentive to increase quality and because it can’t charge each of its customers a different price a large fraction of the quality surplus ends up going to customers and Apple customers love Apple products.

    “Facebook doesn’t charge its customers so relative to Apple it has a greater interest in increasing the number of customers even if that means degrading the quality. As a result, Facebook has more users than Apple but no one loves Facebook. Facebook is broadcast television and Apple is HBO. See my post Why Has TV Replaced Movies as Elite Entertainment for the diagram.”

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/12/zuckerberg-on-facebook-v-apple.html

  4. Google’s former CEO and adult supervisor, Eric Schmidt:

    There’s such an overwhelming amount of information now, we can search where you are, see what you’re looking at if you take a picture with your camera. One way to think about this is, we’re trying to make people better people, literally give them better ideas—augmenting their experience. Think of it as augmented humanity.

    An augmented humanity, hmmmm I think someone else wrote about that, George Orwell author of 1984. I like the little “torture” bit at the end. The guy was quite insightful as to what the future would hold eventually.

    “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

    “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”

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