- Apple has reportedly hired Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook employee who has become a prominent critic of the social network.
- It coincides with Apple CEO Tim Cook being strongly critical of Facebook and other companies, which rely on collecting user data.
- According to the Financial Times, Parakilas will join Apple’s privacy team and work to ensure new products protect users’ security and privacy.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already been angered by Cook’s criticism of his company.
Apple has reportedly recruited a prominent Facebook critic to its security team, in an apparent bid to differentiate itself from other major tech firms on privacy.
According to the Financial Times, Apple has hired Sandy Parakilas, the former Facebook employee who blew the whistle on its privacy practices during the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018.
Parakilas was an operations manager for Facebook between 2011 and 2012. He spoke publicly last year about how covert data harvesting by third-party developers was routine, just as Facebook was under scrutiny for failing to police developer use of its platform.
He also gave evidence to the UK and EU parliaments hearing about the scandal. He told Business Insider at the time: “I have no intention of stopping until the company is doing all it needs to do to protect our elections.”
Parakilas, according to the FT report, will now work at Apple’s privacy team as a product manager. Specifically, he’ll be part of the team that ensures new Apple products protect people’s privacy and don’t collect unnecessary amounts of data.
The hire would be Apple thumbing its nose at Facebook and Google, given both firms rely on collecting user data for their ad businesses. Chief executive Tim Cook has leaned into the narrative that Apple stands alone in Silicon Valley as the one company that fights for its users’ security and privacy. From that position, he has taken shots at Facebook and Google’s wider business models.
“We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” Cook said in a March 2018 MSNBC interview. “Privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty.” Later in the year, he used a speech to attack rivals that hoard “industrial” quantities of data.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was reportedly so angered by these comments that he ordered employees to switch from iPhone to Android phones.
Parakilas is not simply a Facebook-employee-turned-critic either. He was previously chief strategy officer for the Center for Humane Technology, a collective of concerned tech insiders who are trying to raise the alarm about issues such as tech addiction and election interference. Hiring Parakilas sends a signal that Apple is taking these problems seriously.
Parakilas did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but an automated email confirms that he is no longer full-time at the Center of Humane Tech as of this month.
Business Insider has contacted Apple for comment.
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