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Tim Cook slams businesses built on “data exploitation” in speech

“What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups, and then perpetuating those recommendations even.”

What you need to know

  • Tim Cook has slammed platforms that perpetuate misinformation and exploit user data in a speech at an EU privacy conference.
  • It comes amidst a very public spat with Facebook over advertising and privacy, but Cook didn’t mention Facebook by name.

Tim Cook has slammed businesses and social media platforms built on data exploitation and misinformation at an EU data summit.

Speaking at the CPDP conference Thursday, Cook made his remarks at the opening of an Apple-hosted session titled ”A path to empowering choice and boosting user trust in advertising’. Cook made several extremely critical statements of businesses and platforms, without naming any company in particular. But that hasn’t stopped speculation Cook had Facebook on his mind when he made the remarks. He stated:

“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are not choices at all, it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.”

Cook also said that we “can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good and the longer the better” and that companies could not go on collecting as much data as possible. He also asked “What are the consequences of not just tolerating, but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations”, as well as the consequences of seeing thousands of people join extremist groups, often through recommendations.

Cook also called some social platforms “peddlers of division” and “hucksters of personal data” that can lead to violence. Hinting at changes to advertising and tracking in iOS Cook said “technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it.”

Apple today confirmed that iOS tracking changes will be a requirement from the next beta, and be rolled out broadly in the spring.

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