The public dust up between the Silicon Valley heavyweights is entertaining but will do nothing towards solving Facebook's existential crisis
Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker weren't the only pugilists in action over the Easter break: Facebook founder and boss Mark Zuckerberg decided he fancied a turn in the ring too.
His opponent? None other than Tim Cook, another Silicon Valley heavyweight, and his neighbour over at Apple.
Mr Cook had landed the first blow in an interview when the subject of Facebook’s data scandal was raised.
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Declaring the use of users’ information by third party operators to be “an invasion of privacy” he piously declared “I wouldn’t be in this situation”.
Of course he wouldn’t. Apple makes most of its money through the sale of goods and services, by contrast to Facebook (and Google and Twitter) which have an advertising funded model, in which users’ data plays an important role.
This was a point the beleaguered Mr Zuckerberg made in an interview of his own with Vox in which he declared that ad funding was the only way a service like his “which connects people” can operate.
He also got in a low blow by quoting Jeff Bezos, the Amazon boss, who once stated at the launch of one of his Kindle devices that “there are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less”.
The reference to Apple’s aggressive (but so far successful) pricing strategy when it comes to each new iPhone launch was obvious but you do rather wonder how Mr Bezos feels about being dragged into Mr Zuckerberg’s corner.
There are probably far more wanting to be part of Team Cook and that includes some of the similarly funded businesses that feel they wouldn’t have allowed it to happen either and that are now shuddering at the prospect of the regulatory blowback that is surely (and rightfully) on its way.
The issue isn’t Facebook’s ad funded model. It’s the role that data plays in it, and the way third parties like Cambridge Analytica, the business at the centre of the scandal, have been able to access it for their own ends.
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“Glib” Mr Cook may be, but that doesn’t stop his arguments from having resonance. Beyond vague talk of an independent committee to monitor to what Facebook gets up to, Mr Zuckerberg has contributed little of substance the debate so far.
His taking shots at Mr Cook might be entertaining, but it’s a sideshow, and a distraction, and it again raises questions about the maturity of Facebook as a business and its ability to handle the huge challenges it now faces.
Mr Zuckerberg and Facebook, should focus on addressing them rather the views of Mr Cook.