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Tim Cook says Facebook should have regulated itself, but it’s too late for that now

“I think we’re beyond that here.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Tim Cook at the March 27 Apple event in Chicago
Scott Olson / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has doubled down on his call for regulation that would limit Facebook and others companies’ ability to use customer data.

Speaking to Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Cook said he’d prefer that Facebook and others would have curbed their use of personal data to build “these detailed profiles of people ... patched together from several sources.”

“I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”

Cook has made a point of criticizing Facebook for both the Cambridge Analytica affair and its overall approach to consumer privacy in recent days. But it’s not a new stance for him or the company: He made similar comments about Facebook and Google in 2015, and his predecessor Steve Jobs went out of his way to contrast Apple’s privacy stance with rivals like Google in 2010.

Facebook and Google, of course, use consumer data as a core part of their lucrative advertising business. But while Apple has nibbled at the ad business a few times, it makes almost all of its money selling hardware to consumers.

Cook made that point again today: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”

Swisher posed a question for Cook: What would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? His answer: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Cook’s interview with Swisher and Hayes is part of Revolution, a collaboration between Recode and MSNBC. The full interview is scheduled to air on MSNBC on Friday, April 6 at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

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