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WSJ: Zuckerberg tells staff to ‘inflict pain’ on Apple as privacy battle intensifies

As the battle between Facebook and Apple intensifies, The Wall Street Journal is out with a new report this morning detailing Facebook’s anger at Apple. The report explains that one of the turning points in the battle was an interview Tim Cook did in 2018 amid Facebook’s Cambridge Analytics scandal.

In the interview, Cook proclaimed that Apple would have never found itself in such a position, and he called for “well-crafted regulation” to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. Zuckerberg fired back in public, calling Cook’s comments “glib” and untruthful.

In private, today’s report says that Zuckerberg has been even harsher. “We need to inflict pain,” he has reportedly told his team at Facebook.

Late in 2020, Facebook reportedly “deliberated” joining Epic Games in its legal battle against Apple. While the company ultimately decided to stay on the sidelines, it has agreed to provide documents to Epic and assist when necessary. Recent reporting has suggested that Facebook is plotting its own antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman said that Apple’s pitch of choosing between personalized services and privacy is a “false trade-off.”

A Facebook spokeswoman, Dani Lever, said the choice between personalized services and privacy was a “false trade-off,” and that Facebook provides both. “This is not about two companies. This is about the future of the free internet,” she said, asserting that small businesses, app developers and consumers lose out under Apple’s new rules. “Apple claims this is about privacy, but it’s about profit, and we’re joining others to point out their self-preferencing, anticompetitive behavior.”

She denied that the dispute between the two companies is personal, and said that Facebook is “deliberately standing up to Apple” on behalf of businesses and developers hurt by the new policy.

It hasn’t always been this way

The Wall Street Journal does point out that Facebook and Apple haven’t always been at odds. In fact, during a 2014 interview, Cook referred to Facebook as a “partner” while underscoring the competitive threat posed by Android.

As tensions grew over the subsequent years, however, Zuckerberg and Cook reportedly held a face-to-face meeting in 2017. It resulted in a “tense standoff,” the report says.

Nowadays, the tension between Facebook and Apple is so fierce that “advisers to the two companies, including law firms and lobbyists, are growing concerned that they won’t be able to work for both,” the report says.

Apple has continually doubled down on its privacy focus, and it plans to launch its new App Tracking Transparency feature to the public soon. Tim Cook has also continued to slam Facebook’s business model, saying in an interview last month that valuing engagement over privacy leads to “polarization” and “violence.”

The full report is well-worth a read and can be found at The Wall Street Journal. Here’s an Apple News link for those who subscribe to Apple News+ for WSJ access.

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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