- Mark Zuckerberg said Apple was becoming one of Facebook’s “biggest competitors” in an earnings call.
- Apple, he added, misleads users about its commitment to privacy because iMessage doesn’t have default end-to-end encryption.
- He also accused Apple of squashing competition under the guise of privacy protection.
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attacked Apple during Facebook’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg talked up Facebook’s suite of messaging apps, praising their privacy practices. He then segued into criticising Apple, saying it made “misleading” privacy promises to consumers while offering a messaging service, iMessage, that has less privacy than Facebook’s WhatsApp.
“We have a lot of competitors who make claims about privacy that are often misleading,” he said.
“Now Apple recently released so-called nutrition labels, which focused largely on metadata that apps collect rather than the privacy and security of people’s actual messages, but iMessage stores non-end-to-end encrypted backups of your messages by default unless you disable iCloud,” he said.
Apple’s introduction of privacy-nutrition labels for apps is part of a broader privacy update that has caused a major spat with Facebook, to the point where Facebook took out full-page newspaper attack ads in December.
Zuckerberg said WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption made it “clearly superior” to Apple’s messaging service.
“I do want to highlight that we increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors. iMessage is a key linchpin of their ecosystem,” Zuckerberg added.
He also appeared to accuse Apple of anticompetitive behaviour.
“We are also seeing Apple’s business depend more and more on gaining share in apps and services against us and other developers. So Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own. And this impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world,” he said.
Apple delayed rolling out a privacy feature as part of its iOS 14 update after developers, including Facebook, said it would decimate their ad revenue. The feature will ask users permission for apps to track them for advertising purposes.
Apple announced Wednesday the feature, originally slated for September, would be rolling out in early spring. Facebook Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner said the company would face “significant ad targeting headwinds” in the first quarter of 2021 because of Apple’s privacy changes.
Zuckerberg said that while Apple “may say that they’re doing this to help people,” the changes “clearly track their competitive interests. And I think that this dynamic is important for people to understand because we and others are going to be up against this for the foreseeable future.”