Why Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is deleting his Facebook account

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is one of the latest public figures to join the #DeleteFacebook movement over concerns on how the social media platform handles user data.


Starting Monday, some 87 million Facebook users should see a notification atop their news feeds notifying them that their data might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica. The social media company also plans to provide all its 2.2 billion users a tool that would make it easier to identify and restrict how third-party apps access user data.

But that’s apparently too little, too late for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who said he’s leaving Facebook over privacy concerns.

“Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and... Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this,” Wozniak, known by many as “The Woz,” told USA Today. “The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.”

Wozniak said he’d rather pay for Facebook than have his data sold to advertisers, going on to draw comparisons between the business models of Facebook and Apple.

“Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you,” Wozniak said. “As they say, with Facebook, you are the product.”

 

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that Facebook should be more stringent in choosing which apps can operate on its platform.

“We don't subscribe to the view that you have to let [every app] in that wants to, or if you don't, you don't believe in free speech,” said Cook. “We don't believe that.”

Cook also criticized the way Facebook makes money.

“If our customer was our product, we could make a ton of money,” he said, echoing late Apple CEO Steve Job’s stance on privacy.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Cook’s comments “extremely glib.”

“If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford,” Zuckerberg said. “At Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use. I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people.”

To say Facebook faces a conundrum is an understatement. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the world’s biggest social media company is being pummelled by a tsunami of criticism—both from everyday users and tech titans alike.

Many critics argue that Facebook should do more to protect user data. The problem for Facebook, however, is that the bulk of its revenue comes from selling advertisements that utilize users’ personal (though anonymized) data–age, gender, location, and app activity–to enable companies to better target consumers. It’s a business model that’s allowed the company to expand rapidly while providing a free product.

But now, many users are demanding that Facebook stop doing the thing that earns the company billions of dollars each year. How could Facebook continue to earn money while also protecting users’ privacy? One way would be for Facebook to start charging customers.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was asked if there was a way for users to completely “opt-out” of the advertising scheme.

“We have different forms of opt-out,” Sandberg said. “We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product.”

As of April 2018, Facebook has not publicly announced plans to offer any kind of paid service. 

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