- Facebook is still the favourite punching bag for some of its most ferocious critics.
- Last week, both Apple CEO Tim Cook and early Facebook investor Roger McNamee found new and colourful ways to characterise their concerns about the company.
- Cook compared social networks to “chaos factories,” while McNamee said Facebook is trying to turn users into “data voodoo dolls.”
- It shows the critics of Mark Zuckerberg’s company are not prepared to ease up, despite Facebook apologies and promises to do better.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Facebook is still taking a battering from some of its harshest critics, as two high-profile voices spoke out against the company once again last week.
Tim Cook gave a commencement speech at Stanford on Sunday in which he savaged Silicon Valley giants for behaving irresponsibly.
As usual, Cook declined to name names, but the examples he gave conjured images of giants like Facebook, YouTube, and even the fraudulent Theranos.
“We see it every day now. With every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning our national conversation. The false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood,” said Cook.
He added that good intentions were no excuse for the havoc running riot within the tech industry. “Whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create define who you are. It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos,” he said.
Cook now has a long and well-documented history of calling out Facebook without actually uttering the firm’s name. Crucially, he has never denied that the company is the subject of his angst.
Data voodoo dolls
Just days earlier, an early Facebook investor and former mentor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg took aim at the company for manipulating user behaviour during a CNBC interview.
Roger McNamee, who published the highly critical “Zucked” book in February, said Facebook and Google are “essentially gathering data about everybody, creating these data voodoo dolls and using that to manipulate the choices available to people do desired things.”
McNamee went so far as to liken Facebook and Google’s “behavioural manipulation strategy” of user data to the social credit system in China, which monitors, rewards, and punishes citizens’ behaviour.
McNamee and Cook’s comments show that they are not yet prepared to ease up on Facebook and will find colourful new ways to characterise their concerns about the company.
This is despite Facebook’s repeated apologies, promises to do better, and openness to regulation on issues including data privacy and harmful content. Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment.
The Federal Trade Commission is close to completing its investigation into the giant Cambridge Analytica data breach, the results of which will likely reignite the debate about Facebook’s approach to guarding peoples’ personal information.
Zuckerberg himself could be personally implicated after the FTC secured internal emails that appear to show he was aware of problematic privacy practices, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. Facebook said: “At no point did Mark or any other Facebook employee knowingly violate the company’s obligations under the FTC consent order nor do any emails exist that indicate they did.”
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