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Steve Jobs Warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Privacy Issues in 2010

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Since last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the executives have been dealing with many problems regarding Facebook’s privacy issues. Reports claim that the personal data of Facebook users have been extracted by a quiz app without their consent. This data have been said to be passed on to a political data firm Cambridge Analytica that worked on behalf of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. Reacting to this, Zuckerberg only issued a long non-apology on Facebook, which also appeared on cable news. There he explained how the company was responding to what he called “a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”

This might not have happened had the Facebook executives paid attention to what Steve Jobs said eight years ago in 2010. The former CEO of Apple tried to warn Zuckerberg about Facebook privacy issues in 2010. At The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD conference, a noted journalist Walt Mossberg asked Jobs his opinion on the privacy issues around Facebook and Google and whether Silicon Valley looks at privacy differently than the rest of the world. Back then, Facebook had adjusted its privacy controls after being criticized for forcing users to share data and Google was accused of recording Wi-Fi private information.

Zuckerberg was in the audience and was waiting to be interviewed when Jobs answered to it.

Silicon Valley is not monolithic. The views of Silicon Valley are not exactly the same. Our views on privacy have always been significantly different from those of other parts of Silicon Valley. – Steve Jobs.

Jobs even said that Apple would never allow the developers to decide whether to warn the user and inform them that the application is tracking their data. Instead, Apple will use a pop-up alert to warn users to let them know that apps are tracking them. They can turn off this ability if they don’t want to be tracked. He added, “We did a lot of these things to make sure that users know what these apps are doing.”

It’s a stance that his successor, Tim Cook, still holds and is always abides by principle.

When Mossberg asked Jobs if that applied to Apple’s own apps in the cloud, jobs replied, “Simply put, privacy is about letting people know what they have registered and constantly reminding me. I’m an optimist and I believe people are smart. Some people want to share more data than others. Then ask them, ask them again. If they are tired of your questions, they will tell you to stop asking questions. You want them to know exactly how you will handle their data.”

“Many people in Silicon Valley think that our opinion on privacy issues is really outdated,” Jobs said in an interview. Yet he still held a rigid view in protecting the users’ privacy issues.

Earlier, Zuckerberg has been criticized for dealing with user data several times. He apologized in 2007 because a Facebook product over-took user tracking too far. Again in 2010, he accepted the privacy problem and was forced to change the company’s settings. In 2014 the privacy issue of this networking site reappeared. These experiences were not a lesson for Facebook chiefs as the privacy setting problems did pop up again in 2018. Had the company been more forthright about how developers used the data shared with them by Facebook users and sold to third parties, this trouble would have never appeared.


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