Apple CEO Tim Cook appears to take jab at Facebook, saying App Store would be better with ‘more social networks’

Tim cook apple mark zuckerberg facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images;Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images;Insider
  • Facebook and Apple have been at odds over the phone maker’s coming privacy changes on targeted ads.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a recent podcast interview in which he talked about data and privacy.
  • Cook seemed to make a dig at Facebook, sharing his opinion there should be “more social networks.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple CEO Tim Cook may count himself alongside politicians and activists who seek to curb Facebook’s long-held dominance in social media.

Cook recently appeared on a podcast in which he advocated more social-media networks. His comments come with Apple facing off against Facebook ahead of the phone maker’s coming privacy update that could seriously undercut how the social giant makes money.

“I think having more social networks out there is better than having less,” Cook told the journalist Kara Swisher in an episode of “Sway” published Monday.

While Cook didn’t mention Facebook by name, the two companies have been ensnared in a back-and-forth bottle for more than six months over an iPhone update set to roll out this spring. The update requires app developers to get users’ permission to collect data used for targeted advertising and allow users to opt out of this type of tracking.

For Facebook, the change could mean an extensive cut to its advertising revenue, much of which is made using that user data. Facebook has shared its criticism widely and vocally, arguing Apple is making the change to establish its own dominance.

In return, Apple has said Facebook doesn’t respect its users’ privacy.

In the wake of Facebook’s backlash, Apple has postponed the rollout of its privacy update. The update was originally scheduled to arrive last September.

Facebook is also said to be preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple over the change, The Information reported in January. Facebook’s argument would allege that Apple is requiring app developers to abide by rules (like the ability to opt out of targeted ads) to appear on the App Store but that the company’s own apps don’t have to adhere to the same rules.

Apple is also facing antitrust cases from both Epic Games and Spotify over its App Store rules and fees, which critics have deemed anticompetitive and comparable to a “shakedown” of app developers.

Cook defended the App Store policies on Monday’s podcast episode, saying the company worked “hard to get people on the Store, not to keep people off the Store.”

Apple’s App Store has also faced complaints from users of Parler, a social-media app known for attracting Trump supporters and members of the far right. The app was removed from the App Store (and Google’s Play store) in January after the deadly siege at the US Capitol for failing to take “adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety.” In the wake of the attack, Parler said it had alerted the FBI more than 50 times about “specific threats of violence” before January 6.

Though Parler has attempted to distance itself from the actions taken at the US Capitol, the app has yet to reappear in Google’s or Apple’s app stores. Bloomberg reported that Parler had applied to return to the App Store in February, but was rejected because hate speech and Nazi symbols could still be found on the app.

Still, Cook said in his podcast appearance he was hopeful Parler could return to the App Store.

“I hope that they come back on,” Cook said. “I’m hoping that they put in the moderation that’s required to be on the store and come back, because I think having more social networks out there is better than having less.”