Tim Cook reportedly told Facebook to delete all of its third-party user data. It didn't.

Facebook (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg were involved in a meeting in July 2019.
  • The Apple CEO wanted Facebook to delete all third-party data, but it didn't.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that his company should delete data collected via third parties during a meeting of the pair in July 2019. Zuck, according to a New York Times report, wasn't impressed.

Somewhat predictably, Facebook didn't delete any of the data.

From the NYT:

At the meeting, Mr. Zuckerberg asked Mr. Cook how he would handle the fallout from the controversy, people with knowledge of the conversation said. Mr. Cook responded acidly that Facebook should delete any information that it had collected about people outside of its core apps.

And the outcome:

Mr. Zuckerberg was stunned, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Facebook depends on data about its users to target them with online ads and to make money. By urging Facebook to stop gathering that information, Mr. Cook was in effect telling Mr. Zuckerberg that his business was untenable. He ignored Mr. Cook's advice.

This news comes as Apple is Apple is about to release iOS 14.5 along with its new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature. That feature will require apps to ask a user's permission before tracking them from app to app – something advertisers do a lot and are worried that users won't agree to. Both Apple and Facebook have been in a semi-public spat about ATT ever since it was announced last year.

It's doubtful Cook ever expected Zuckerberg to delete any data. But the fact he made the suggestion during a meeting is the best news of this Monday so far! If you're worried about what data Facebook is collecting, maybe it's time to switch to one of the many Facebook alternatives.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

1 Comment
  • Facebook would not even exist essentially without users providing the raw material, in the course of which providing Facebook with a medium for advertising. Again: The users provide the material to make Facebook and its advertising possible.
    Being run by sociopaths, Zuckerberg and his team of 1% deplorable aren't at all satisfied. They have to then use users' data to target ads. That's not completely, necessarily a negative. On the other hand, Facebook at the same time bullshits advertisers about reach, accuracy and volume of the ad placements.
    But even running a scammy advertising business isn't enough.
    They place data-hoovers on every device used to access Facebook. Those "Like" buttons on most webpages? That's the sign of Facebook surveilling you.
    But even spying on you isn't enough. They then have to take the data that they stole from you and sell it to third parties without, of course, any notice to or approval from the user.
    I'm sure the EULA makes this all proper, legal, etc.
    It's morally unacceptable and, as described at the top, not necessary for business. It's the Trump business model: Making money honestly isn't enough, you have to steal -- literally -- every dollar you can.
    Such antipathy as Tim Cook has for the Facebook business is 100% warranted and proper. Any defense of Facebook is a sad reflection of how much abuse people are willing to take.