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Wozniak Pulls the Plug on Facebook, Says Users Are ‘The Product’

By on April 27, 2018

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is pulling the plug on his Facebook account amid a growing controversy over the social media giant’s privacy and personal data policies.

In an email interview with USA Today, Wozniak said he’s leaving Facebook for a few reasons. For one, Wozniak is joining an increasing number of people concerned about tech firms and their “carelessness” in handling user data. But the former Apple engineer also brought up another point: Facebook’s business model.

Like other tech companies that offer free services rather than physical products, Facebook monetizes its users’ data as its primary revenue stream. Oftentimes, that involves leveraging that data for targeted advertising.

“Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook … and Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this,” Wozniak wrote in an email. “The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.”

In contrast, Wozniak praised Apple for its strong commitment to privacy. “Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you,” Wozniak said. “As they say, with Facebook, you are the product.”

Wozniak said he’d rather pay to use Facebook — like via a monthly subscription — than have his personal data used for advertising purposes. That preference echoes a remark made by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who said that users who don’t want their data exploited should have to pay for the privilege, according to Forbes.

His comments join other public statements made by tech leaders about data privacy. Apple CEO Tim Cook made an unusual public criticism of Facebook last month, and Zuckerberg shot back in a subsequent interview.

The Apple co-founder is only the latest prominent voice in tech to ditch Facebook. In March, Tesla and SpaceX CEO deactivated the Facebook pages for both companies after a Twitter user challenged him to do so.

The growing controversy comes in the wake of revelations that a political analysis firm called Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their consent. Zuckerberg is slated to testify before Congress this week about the scandal and Facebook’s response.

Wozniak had previously criticized Facebook and Google for their widespread data collection practices at a business conference in Montreal last year, telling consumers that he tries to “avoid” those platforms, The Drum reported.