Tim Cook took another thinly disguised shot at Mark Zuckerberg over the Facebook data fiasco

Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook. Getty Images
  • Tim Cook made a big deal about Apple‘s pro-privacy position in a speech to Duke University on Sunday.
  • He said Apple is “respectful” with user information, a contrast to Facebook, which has been mired in an epic data scandal in recent weeks.
  • It is not the first time Cook has taken a thinly disguised shot at Facebook, saying in March that the company is “beyond” self-regulation.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken another thinly disguised shot at Facebook by playing up his company’s conservative stance on collecting people’s data.

Speaking at Duke University in North Carolina on Sunday, Cook made the case for Apple’s “respectful” position on user information just weeks after Facebook was at the center of a global storm over a data breach that affected 87 million users.

Cook told new graduates: “We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy. So we choose a different path: collecting as little of your data as possible. Being thoughtful and respectful when it’s in our care. Because we know it belongs to you.”

And while the message could just have easily been contrasted with the way Google collects user data, it is not the first time Cook has made a veiled comment about the Facebook crisis.

In an interview with Recode at the height of the data scandal in March, he was asked what he would do if he was in Zuckerberg’s shoes. “I wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said. Cook added that the fiasco showed that Facebook was “beyond” self-regulation.

Apple launched a new privacy section on its website last year, in which it boasts about its stance on data protection.

“At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right,” the site says, adding that “every Apple product is designed from the ground up” to protect information, including calls, emails, messages, and internet history.

Apple has less need for data after closing its advertising division, iAd, in 2016; and iOS apps are subject to much stricter terms than Android equivalents about what information they can collect.

And anecdotally, there is evidence that Apple collects far less data than Facebook and Google. USA Today tech reporter Jefferson Graham secured a copy of the data Apple holds on him. The file was only 9 megabytes, compared to the 243 MB and 881 MB ones he received from Google and Facebook, respectively. “There’s not much there, because Apple says the information is primarily kept on your device, not its servers,” he said.