Elon Musk isn’t the only Silicon Valley luminary to delete Facebook pages (or rather, the pages belonging to Tesla and SpaceX) in response to the widening scandal over how Facebook stores, shares, leverages and sells its users’ personal data: on Sunday, Woz also deactivated his account saying the social network had brought him “more negatives than positives.”
“I am in the process of leaving Facebook. It’s brought me more negatives than positives. Apple has more secure ways to share things about yourself. I can still deal with old school email and text messages.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak explained his decision in an email to USA Today, saying Facebook makes a lot of advertising money from personal information voluntarily shared with the company.
Woz said he’d rather pay for Facebook – adding that Apple “makes money off of good products, not off of you. As they say, with Facebook, you’re the product.”
What is far more fascinating to us is that it took years for brilliant people such as Wozniak to grasp what was patently obvious to most others, even if those “others” are what the dormant, quiet and largely daft majority, would call “conspiracy theorists.”
Woz said that, while leaving Facebook was difficult, he was astounded by revelations about the comprehensiveness of Facebook’s data harvesting.
In an email to USA TODAY, Wozniak said he was taken aback by the extent of Facebook’s data collection when he changed and deleted some of his information before deactivating his account.
“I was surprised to see how many categories for ads and how many advertisers I had to get rid of, one at a time. I did not feel that this is what people want done to them,” he said. “Ads and spam are bad things these days and there are no controls over them. Or transparency.”
Still, breaking up with Facebook isn’t easy. Wozniak chose not to delete his Facebook account. He didn’t mind bidding farewell to his 5,000 Facebook friends, many of whom he says he doesn’t know. But he didn’t want to give up his “stevewoz” screen name.
“I don’t want someone else grabbing it, even another Steve Wozniak,” he said.
Of course, a paid product doesn’t necessarily mean a company won’t collect user data and offer to manipulate it on behalf of advertisers, as one Twitter user pointed out…
I pay to subscribe to @nytimes, @WSJ, and @washingtonpost. All of them track me and sell my data through similar #adtech systems. So please don’t argue that if we paid for @facebook everything would be cool.
— Siva Vaidhyanathan???????????? (@sivavaid) April 8, 2018
Woz’s repudiation of Zuckerberg and company follows Apple CEO Tim Cook’s unexpected criticism of his Silicon Valley peer during an interview with Recode. When asked what he would do if he were in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s position, Cook replied that he would never be in such a situation.
He added that Apple strenuously reviews apps available in its app store to make sure they respect user privacy.
“We don’t subscribe to the view that you have to let everybody in that wants to, or if you don’t, you don’t believe in free speech,” said Cook. “We don’t believe that.”
Zuckerberg responded to Cook during an interview with Vox, saying he found the Apple CEO’s argument to be “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,” said Zuckerberg.”
Zuckerberg is set to appear before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile, his company is facing lawsuits from users and shareholders, along with a potentially devastating FTC investigation and increasing scrutiny in the UK and Brussels.