Mark Zuckerberg Rebuts Tim Cook: Companies That Charge You More Don't Necessarily Care About You More

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has countered the argument that companies without an ad-supported business model are better off.


"You know, I find that argument, that if you're not paying that somehow we can't care about you, to be extremely glib," said Zuckerberg, in an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein. "And not at all aligned with the truth."

"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 who 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."

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Recode's Kara Swisher and MSNBC's Chris Hayes that his company "could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer," but added "we've elected not to do that."

Apple's business model is primarily focused on selling products like iPhones and iPads to customers, rather than targeting users with advertisements based on their personal information. Facebook, on the other hand, is a free service that relies on ads for a significant portion of its revenue.

Cook, who said Apple views privacy as a "human right," believes that Facebook shouldn't have the ability to collect as much information as it does.

"The ability of anyone to know what you've been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life -- from my own point of view it shouldn't exist," said Cook, speaking at the annual China Development Forum last week.

Zuckerberg argued that while Facebook is "squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use," it doesn't mean the company doesn't care about people.

"I don't think at all that that means that we don't care about people. To the contrary, 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. Because that sounds ridiculous to me."

Zuckerberg's comments follow last month's revelation that data firm Cambridge Analytica used personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission to build a system that could target U.S. voters with personalized political ads based on their psychological profile.

Cook said the situation "is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary." He also made the mic-drop comment that he "wouldn't be in this situation" if he were Zuckerberg.

The entire question and answer is embedded below.

Ezra Klein
One of the things that has been coming up a lot in the conversation is whether the business model of monetizing user attention is what is letting in a lot of these problems. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, gave an interview the other day and he was asked what he would do if he was in your shoes. He said, “I wouldn't be in this situation,” and argued that Apple sells products to users, it doesn't sell users to advertisers, and so it's a sounder business model that doesn't open itself to these problems.

Do you think part of the problem here is the business model where attention ends up dominating above all else and so anything that can engage has powerful value within the ecosystem?

Mark Zuckerberg
You know, I find that argument, that if you're not paying that somehow we can't care about you, to be extremely glib. And not at all aligned with the truth. 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 who 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.

That doesn't mean that we're not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what's going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.

But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford. I thought Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.

I don't think at all that that means that we don't care about people. To the contrary, 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. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
31 months ago
Not that Mark's point is invalid, but with what he and Facebook just did (or have been doing for years), he's the last person who should be commenting on caring for people right now.
Score: 164 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Offering free, advisement based service is different than selling and exploiting customer data.
Score: 112 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Zuckerberg is a pathological BS artist.
Score: 94 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Nice deflection, Zuck.

Nobody is claiming ad-supported services are wrong. Radio and TV are ad-supported (for example). They don’t require a complete profile of me or extensive data mining of users to work. And they won’t ever fall victim to a data breach.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Apple: "How much can we sell to our customers"?
Facebook: "How much of our customer can we sell"?
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
Maybe Mark should go into politics. Because that was one fine bit of political spin. The problem is not that they are advertiser supported. MacRumors is advertiser supported. The problem is what as Tim Cook put it so well,they have monetized their customers. Advertiser supported sites would have no reason to collect the phone number of everyone you call or text or that call you. They don't have reason to turn on the camera, or the microphone on your phone and spy on you. They don't have reason to collect all of this data and then to link it together with analytics that is so sophisticated, it can identify you in a picture even if your face is not visible. They don't have reason to sell all of this data to who ever has the money to buy it. It's not that it is advertiser supported. Because that is not what Facebook is.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Top Stories: Try the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Display Size, Blockbuster Earnings, Tim Cook at Antitrust Hearing

Saturday August 1, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Another busy week of Apple news and rumors has wrapped up, with a lot of focus on Tim Cook's appearance at a Congressional antitrust hearing and a blockbuster earnings report. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We continued to hear rumors about the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, including a rare admission from Apple that the lineup will launch "a few weeks later" than...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Just How Small Will the 5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Screen Be? Try It Out for Yourself

Tuesday July 28, 2020 12:57 pm PDT by
As rumors of the iPhone 12 have continued to build over the past few months, the one model that has the most excitement around it is the smallest 5.4" model. The iPhone 12 is believed to be coming in 5.4", 6.7", and 6.1" sizes. Dummy models have shown how much smaller the 5.4" is compared to the rest of the iPhone lineup. The upcoming 5.4" iPhone falls in-between the size of the original...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...