Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly losing support amongst his peers in Silicon Valley following Facebook’s latest user data scandal.
Bloomberg reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been left with few defenders in Silicon Valley following his company’s latest user data scandal. Amongst Zuckerberg’s biggest critics in the tech industry is Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, while many other Silicon Valley firms have fallen silent in the wake of the Facebook user data scandal, a stark contrast to how tech firms usually react when one of their own is attacked.
When other major tech brands have been questioned by the government — which Mark Zuckerberg very likely will be as he has been called to testify before Congress twice — Silicon Valley companies have rallied behind those attacked, such as when Apple fought with the FBI to protect the unlocking of an encrypted iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino terrorist. Gennie Gebhart, a researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stated “Protecting privacy is good for business now. Users are looking for other big tech personalities like Tim Cook, like Elon Musk, to be reassured that they’re not doing what Facebook did.”
Cook has particularly taken issue with Facebook following their most recent scandal stating that he “wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg gave a lengthy response to Cook saying “I find that argument — that if you’re not paying, that somehow we can’t care about you — to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.” He continued “There are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay” for a service and an “advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.” Zuckerberg stated, “If you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford.”
Anthony DiClemente, an analyst at Evercore ISI, seemed surprised at Cook’s reaction to the Facebook controversy saying “In a normal state, I wouldn’t expect Tim Cook to be a natural defender of Facebook’s interests.” Gennie Gebhart stated that social media companies continued abuse of user data is going to be a huge issue as users become more conscious of how their personal details are being used. “This is about the entire web surveillance-based and advertising-powered business model,” she said. “Facebook is just the worst or best at it, depending on your view of surveillance.”
Salesforce’s Marc Benioff has called for Facebook to be regulated for some time at one point saying “I got in trouble with friends of mine at Facebook, who were calling me and very upset with me because I said, ‘Facebook is the new cigarettes.”’ He continued “It’s addictive, it’s not good for you and there’s outside forces trying to manipulate you to use it.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave a much shorter reason for the deletion of his companies Facebook pages. “Just don’t like Facebook,” he wrote. “Gives me the willies. Sorry.”
So it would seem from the outside that Facebook is being hung out to dry by its competition. But the real question is, are these companies operating any differently to Facebook? For the likes of Apple and Google, the answer is probably no.