Jun 5, 2018

It's on: Apple vs. Facebook

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Apple didn't shy away from criticizing Silicon Valley rival Facebook Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in California.

Why it matters: The feud is part of a bigger battle brewing between the two companies over their governing philosophies and practices.

"We think privacy is a fundamental human right ... I think the privacy thing has gotten totally out of control."
— Apple CEO Tim Cook to CNN's Laurie Segall
  • The remarks were made in conjunction with the announcement Monday that Apple would be shutting down "like" buttons that track Internet activity of users logged into certain social platforms, like Facebook.
  • Apple showed an image of a Safari browser blocking "Facebook.com" from using cookies and website data in a demo on stage.
  • Facebook was quick to fire back: "If this is about protecting privacy, and not just cute virtue signaling, then they should block all 3rd party JS and pixels," Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos tweeted.

Apple also highlighted new features to help customers better manage the amount of time and attention they devote to their devices, as well as parental controls, another not-so-subtle reference to criticism Facebook (along with other tech companies) has recently faced, per Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.

  • Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook took a swipe at Facebook, arguing his company would never have been in a situation like Facebook's when it comes to user privacy because it elects not to make the consumer's data "the product" the company is selling. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later called his criticism "glib."

The quarrel comes as Facebook is facing Congressional inquiries over a New York Times report that it gave device partners (including Apple) access to user data, which could have potentially violated a regulatory decree.

  • But as Axios' Scott Rosenberg points out, many people aren't understanding what Facebook was doing. For the most part it was letting phone makers either build their own Facebook apps, or include direct Facebook posting into their products.

Both firms are also trying to navigate the ever-complicated news business, with Apple announcing Monday that it's bringing its Apple News product to Macbooks and Facebook announcing last week that it's ending its Trending Topics news feature, in an effort to reportedly replace it with curated news shows.

The two companies are currently nearly neck and neck when it comes to current trade value, although Apple's market value is nearly 70% higher than Facebook's.

Go deeper: Axios' Ina Fried has a full run-down of all developer conference updates.

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