UPDATED: Steve Wozniak, the tech philanthropist who co-founded Apple, said he is leaving Facebook over the social giant’s aggregation of users’ data — and how Facebook profits off that info.
“Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and… Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this,” he said in an email to USA Today, according to a story published Sunday. “The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.”
By contrast, Wozniak said, “Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you. As they say, with Facebook, you are the product.”
The announcement from “The Woz” comes as Facebook continues try to contain the damage from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company last week revealed last week that data on upwards of 87 million users may have been improperly obtained by the political consulting firm, which reportedly used that data as part of its work on Donald Trump’s successful 2016 president campaign. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress at a Senate hearing Tuesday and a House hearing on Wednesday about its handling of the Cambridge Analytica case.
Wozniak’s comments echoed those of Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview that aired on MSNBC last Friday. In the interview, part of MSNBC’s “Revolution” series, Cook blasted Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica situation, saying that “privacy to us is a human right” and noted that Apple could “make a ton of money” if it chose to monetize its customers’ data.
“This is not something that we just started last week when we saw something happening. We’ve been doing this for years,” Cook said. The CEO also called for new data-privacy legislation, saying that while his preference is for industries to self-regulate, “I think we’re beyond that here.”
The Facebook scandal has prompted a boycott movement revolving around the hashtag #DeleteFacebook. Those leaving the platform in the wake of the revelations have included Will Ferrell, Playboy, Cher, Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.
Wozniak deactivated — but didn’t actually delete — his personal Facebook account, telling USA Today he didn’t want someone else to obtain his screen name. Wozniak’s official public page on Facebook, which has about 230,000 followers, was still active as of Monday morning but currently has only two active posts.
Despite a smattering of high-profile defections, most Wall Street analysts don’t expect a significant dent in Facebook’s monthly user base of 2.1 billion worldwide.
While “#deletefacebook seems to have become a popular hashtag after the initial news reports… we do not believe it will have a material impact” on its monthly user base, SunTrust analyst Youssef Squali wrote in a March 29 note reiterating his “buy” rating on the stock.
Meanwhile, Google searches for “#deletefacebook” and related terms, after peaking March 21 in the days after the Cambridge Analytica story broke (and when Zuckerberg first publicly addressed the situation), have declined over the following weeks.
Source: Google Trends