Tim Cook Says Facebook’s Criticism Are ‘Flimsy Arguments,’ Epic Games Saga a ‘Deceitful Move’

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 5 Apr 2021

mark zuckerberg tim cook ios 14 privacy

In a new interview with Kara Swisher of The New York Times, Tim Cook says that Facebook’s comments on iOS 14’s App Tracking Transparency are merely ‘flimsy arguments.’ Talking more about the iOS 14’s privacy features and App Store practices, he says that the whole Epic Games saga was a ‘deceitful move’ from the company.

In the interview where Tim Cook said he “probably” won’t be at Apple 10 years down the line, the CEO had some things to say about the ongoing spat between Facebook and Apple. iOS 14 is going to introduce app tracking transparency which will block advertisers to identify individuals for targeting ads.

Facebook has been taking a dig at Apple since the company announced this feature. It ran a full-page ad criticizing iOS 14’s app tracking transparency and has been behind Apple since then. Calling privacy “top issue of the 21st century,” here’s what Tim Cook had to say about Facebook.

Kara Swisher

companies like Facebook and many others make a lot of money from data collected from those trackers. How will the consumers see it? What is going to happen?

Tim Cook

They’ll see a simple pop-up that basically prompts them to answer the question of, are they OK with being tracked or not? If they are, things move on. If they’re not, then the tracking is turned off for that individual with respect to that specific app.

Kara Swisher

So, what is your response to Facebook’s response, which is quite vehement, calling you, essentially, an existential crisis to their business?

Tim Cook

All we’re doing, Kara, is giving the user the choice whether to be tracked or not. And I think it’s hard to argue against that. I’ve been shocked that there’s been a pushback on this to this degree. To this degree. Because I mean, how do you argue against that?

Kara Swisher

They have a lot of them. You’re hurting small businesses. That it’s part of your bottom line.

Tim Cook

But we know these things are flimsy arguments.

The conversation then shifted to the ethics and the guidelines of the App Store, and why the developers these days were reluctant to follow them. Kara asked Tim about the upcoming hearing between Apple and Epic Games, which is going to be held on May 3.

Kara Swisher

Epic tried to circumvent Apple’s App Store. [..] So they introduced their own direct payment system. You kicked “Fortnite” off the store for breaking the rules. You may not be able to talk specifically, but what was the principle at stake here?

Tim Cook

It’s about living up to the rules and the guidelines of the App Store. And they had done that for years and then had decided evidently that they didn’t want to follow the rules anymore, and had passed something through app review and then after it had been through app review, changed it on the server side.

So it was sort of a deceitful move. And so we’re going into court. We’re coming to tell our story. We’re going to talk about the privacy and security aspects of the store. And we’re confident in our case.

Continuing the conversation, Kara asked Tim Cook, “Why can’t there be more App Stores” on iOS, to which he replied, “Because if you had sideloading, you would break the privacy and security model.” Tim Cook says that nearly 40,000 apps are rejected through the App Store review process every week and if Apple doesn’t take care of the content on the App Store, said, “You can image what would occur to the App Store in a very short amount of time.”

What are your thoughts on the statements given by Tim Cook? Do you think Apple’s App Store practices and monopolized distribution are justified? Do you think Apple performs well when it comes to protecting users’ privacy? Let us know in the comments section below!