Returning a recent spate of critiques of Facebook made by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg said Cook’s argument was “extremely glib” and “not aligned with the truth,” and took a dig at Apple’s high prices.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the usually tight-lipped Cook has commented publicly about Facebook and its CEO several times. “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our product,” he told Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in an interview recorded last week. “We’ve elected not to do that.”
Today, April 2, Zuckerberg responded to Cook’s comments during a podcast interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein:
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.
This is why having an advertising-based business model is the only “rational” one to support such a wide-reaching service, Zuckerberg argued.
He then took a thinly veiled shot at the high prices Apple charges for its products:
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.
Zuckerberg’s defensive response may well be because of something else Cook said during his interview last week. In another exchange, Swisher asked Cook what would he do if he were in Zuckerberg’s situation. “I wouldn’t be in this situation,” the Apple CEO answered.
Cook also said at the China Development Forum in Beijing last week that in order to address privacy concerns related to Facebook, some “well-crafted” regulation is necessary:
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.
Zuckerberg took another stab at Cook and Apple’s pricing on Klein’s podcast:
I don’t think at all that that [providing a free service] 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.
Following the latest revelations that exposed how Facebook has treated data privacy in the past, Zuckerberg has to do much more convincing that his company cares about its users than perhaps any other CEO right now.