Mark Zuckerberg, who has been in FEMA-caliber damage control mode since the reveal of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke a couple weeks ago, today gave an interview to Vox. Among other topics, he responded to criticism from Apple CEO Tim Cook in the strangest way possible.
Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein asked Zuckerberg multiple questions about the scandal and Facebook’s “hardest year” — which, considering it’s only April, is a pretty cynical (and accurate) claim. Klein asked Zuckerberg about remarks made by Cook last week.
In case you missed it, Cook gave an interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher, in which he stated he “wouldn’t get in [Zuckerberg’s] situation,” because Apple’s business doesn’t involve monetizing the customer.
When asked for his thoughts on Cook’s critiques, Zuckerberg told Klein:
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.
That doesn’t really answer the question, Mark. And Tim Cook is not being “glib” by pointing out that his company operates on a different system than yours. But it’s what Zuckerberg said next that was the most confusing:
I don’t think at all that that means that we 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. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.
I guess accusing companies who don’t have an advertising-based sales model of fostering “Stockholm Syndrome” is one way of responding, but it shows Zuck doesn’t really understand how those companies work — or what Stockholm Syndrome is.
Also, that’s not what Cook said at all — he merely stated that Apple represents itself through what it sells, and what it sells isn’t customer information, at least not in the way Facebook does.
Zuckerberg also went on to say he’s considering new governance structures for Facebook, including a “Supreme Court” of non-Facebook employees who pass judgement on what’s acceptable speech. (I volunteer.)
Facebook has already stated it will disconnect itself from third-party data brokers, such as CA. It’s also pledged to make its privacy options easier to locate and understand, so that users will be able to control who sees their information — or at least have the illusion of control. It’s making steps, but all the steps in the world don’t insulate you from criticism.
Your company did a dishonorable thing, and someone like Tim Cook is within their rights to call you on it. Take your medicine, Mark.
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