Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who needed almost a week to come out of hiding with a response for the Cambridge Analytica privacy breach and its implications, also took about a week to respond to Tim Cook’s comments on Facebook’s latest scandal. Zuckerberg said that Cook’s opinion — that Apple offers a better business model as it sells products to users rather than user data to advertisers — was “extremely glib, and not at all aligned with the truth.”
Zuckerberg’s remarks, however, are also not at all aligned with the truth.
“I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you,” Zuckerberg said in a Vox podcast. “Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”
Over the years, Facebook has proven time and again that it’s ready to infringe your privacy if its efforts bring in more cash. The Cambridge Analytica mess happened exactly because Facebook was looking to lure in developers with more of your data. All in order for the social network to grow, keep customers entertained, and make more money off well-targeted ads.
Not to mention that Facebook only came forward with the Cambridge Analytica ban and subsequent privacy “improvements” because of a whistleblower who told the world about these issues, which Facebook first had to deal with a couple of years ago.
On top of it all, let’s remember Zuckerberg did not say he was sorry about the whole mess in his nearly 1,000-word statement about the whole mess. He did so in the hours and days that followed.
It sure looks like Facebook cared less than it should have.
“The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people,” Zuckerberg also said.
Wait a second there, you sly Facebook CEO, you! Did you just say Facebook is a media company? Didn’t Sheryl Sandberg tell Axios back in October that Facebook isn’t a media company? So which is it?
It’s just another thing about Facebook that does not align with the truth.
It’s absolutely okay to offer freemium services to users, but people should always know what happens to their data, including how it’s being monetized and shared. Facebook doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to handling user privacy or being transparent about it.
To prove how fast Facebook changes its version of the truth, let’s also remember back when Zuckerberg candidly said that fake news on Facebook influencing the outcome of the US election was a “pretty crazy idea.” That was in November 2016, soon after the election.
Facebook and Zuckerberg have had to eat their words plenty of times since then, after being forced to reveal all that occurred on Facebook during the elections when it comes to fake news and Russian meddling.
In light of all that — and we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to privacy-related incidents and uncomfortable truths Zuckerberg has had to answer for — it sure sounds extremely glib to pretend that Facebook cares about user privacy as much as Apple, or that Cook’s remarks are out of place and “not aligned with the truth.” Can Facebook do better? Sure. But how many second chances will we keep giving it?
Zuckerberg confirmed he will appear before the US Congress. Grab your popcorn, because plenty of truth-bending may lie ahead.