Apple and Facebook’s verbal altercations remained largely professional, but so were CEOs Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg. In 2018, in the midst of the Cambridge Analytics scandal, Cook was asked how Apple would have overcome the crisis if it had faced such a major crisis. In response, Cook even denied that such a thing happened in the imaginary world, saying that Apple would never face such a problem thanks to its different approach to privacy and user data. Zuckerberg called Cook’s remarks “extremely absurd” and “completely untrue.”
As the Wall Street Journal quoted anonymous sources ReportsZuckerberg was so upset with Cook’s career and its negative impact on Facebook’s reputation that he told some employees that Facebook should “pour its poison on Apple.” Zuckerberg last month, in a report on the company’s revenue, called Apple a major threat to Facebook and accused the Cupertino-based company of abusing its platforms to disrupt Facebook’s apps.
Just a day later, Cook indirectly accused Facebook of inciting violence and divisiveness at a conference. At the same conference, the Apple CEO pointed to the possible role of Facebook in the attack on Congress, and said that the company’s algorithms were effective in spreading conspiracy theories.
In December 2020, Facebook launched a newspaper ad criticizing Apple for its anti-tracking policy. Facebook claims that this feature, called App Tracking Transparency, or ATT, hits small companies that rely on personalized ads. Cook responded by claiming that with this policy, Apple wants to leave the decision of whether or not to track to users.
Despite a sharp verbal altercation between Cook and Zuckerberg, a Facebook spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the tensions between the two CEOs were personal and that the altercation was “about the future of the free Internet.” Facebook claims that choosing between tracking users for personalized ads and protecting privacy is a “wrong deal” and that the company can offer both. A Facebook spokesman added that Apple’s goal was not to enhance privacy but to increase profitability, reflecting the company’s “self-centeredness and monopoly behavior.”
According to some reports, Facebook wants to sue Apple on charges of monopoly and “unfair” approach to privacy with ATT capability. To deepen Apple’s case, Facebook is considering working with other companies, including Epic Games, which is involved in separate lawsuits with Cupertino-based company over the removal of Fortnite from the App Store. However, there is a possibility that Facebook will step back because some employees believe that the company is not a victim due to its bad record in managing user data.
Apple has allowed developers to customize app tracking messages, and Facebook has apparently asked users in its message to enable tracking to help the company provide a “better ad display experience.”
Apple is adding ATT capability to iPhones and iPads along with iOS and iPadOS 14.5 “early spring,” and it looks like Facebook should be the loser from now on.