Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, has launched yet another attack on Facebook as the two tech giants butt heads over Apple’s move to introduce privacy features that would drastically curtail online advertising.
Cook defended his company’s decision to introduce the new features, dubbed App Tracking Transparency (ATT), when speaking at the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference’s “Data Privacy Day”.
The setting, due to be released in “early spring”, will prevent apps from tracking users around the web unless the user specifically grants them permission.
Facebook has criticised the move, claiming that it would prevent small businesses from being able to win new customers.
Dan Levy, head of ads at Facebook, said that Apple was moving towards “anti-personalised advertising, and we think is trying to take the world back 10 or 20 years”.
Cook hit back, defending ATT and indirectly calling out Facebook as an irresponsible actor. He said that Apple was expecting most of its user base to block tracking altogether.
“Some may well think that sharing this degree of information is worth it for more targeted ads,” Cook said. “Many others, I suspect, will not, just as most appreciated it when we built a similar functionality into Safari limiting web trackers several years ago.
“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are not choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform. Too many are still asking the question ‘how much can we get away with?’, when they need to be asking ‘what are the consequences?’.
“What are the consequences of prioritising conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of their high rates of engagement? What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in lifesaving vaccinations? What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups, and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more?”
Facebook is still yet to comment, but the social network has reportedly been preparing to take Apple to court over the issue.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said that Apple was focusing “on gaining share in apps and services against us and other developers. So Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.”
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