clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Remember when Apple’s Steve Jobs tweaked Mark Zuckerberg about ‘onerous’ Facebook? I do!

Much as Tim Cook said last week, the legendary tech leader didn’t want anything to do with the social networking site either.

Steve Jobs onstage at the D8 conference
You don’t mess around with Steve.
Asa Mathat

One of the good things about being old is that you have probably talked to just about everyone at some point about everything.

Case in point, a short interview I did in 2010 with the late Steve Jobs, the legendary Apple co-founder and CEO, when we were jawing about a new iPod nano at a music event in San Francisco.

As we walked around the demo area, I also asked about a new social network for music called Ping that Apple had integrated within iTunes 10 and which I wrote at the time “looks an awful lot like the experience you get on Facebook.”

Facebook had noodled for years on doing its own social music offering, but its efforts had largely gone nowhere. And, as I wrote then, “Facebook was nowhere on Ping, either. Currently, there is no linking, sharing or participation of any kind with Facebook — or Twitter or MySpace — on Ping, which will work only on the iTunes software on computers, iPhones and iPods.”

Jobs told me that Apple had held unsuccessful talks with Facebook about a variety of unspecified partnerships related to Ping. The reason, according to Jobs: Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to,” related to connecting with Facebook friends on Ping.

Jobs let that word hang in the air and even raised a disdainful eyebrow when I asked what he meant, including whether Ping would incorporate connecting with Facebook or even using Facebook Connect, which would make it much easier to find friends to share music with.

“We could, I guess,” he shrugged without much enthusiasm for Ping and, most of all, for linking Apple customers with Facebook. He reminded me to re-watch the onstage interview from just months before that he did with me and Walt Mossberg. Walt asked him about privacy and referenced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was also in the room listening.

“Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for — in plain English, and repeatedly,” said Jobs in that interview, which you can see below, aiming at the young techie and advertising-based businesses like Facebook.

Fast-forward to today — Ping is gone and Facebook reigns supreme in the social networking space. But the hurt remains, if Zuckerberg’s much-delayed response is any indication, which came after current Apple CEO Tim Cook took a pretty standard whack at him in an hour-long interview I did with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (and which is set to air in full this Friday night on the cable network).

When I asked about the controversies that Facebook is currently embroiled in (Russia meddling, out-of-control ad platform, data abuse by third-party developers, tech addiction), Cook called out advertising-based business as problematic.

And then I specifically asked him, what would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. His answer was clear and cutting: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Ouch, for sure, which caused Zuckerberg to retaliate today in a podcast with’s Ezra Klein, in which he said Cook’s comments were “extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.”

Not just glib, but extremely glib! While I am still trying to figure out where he came up with that word, that second part means he called Cook a liar.

But that was not enough, and soon Zuckerberg went off in an odd populist direction by noting that Apple stuff costs too much.

“But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford,” he said. “I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people. To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”

The misused Stockholm reference sounded ridiculous to me and the rich people thing seems wrong coming out of the mouth of a much-richer-than-Cook billionaire, but who am I to judge?

Well, okay, I am judging this kerfuffle to be in Apple’s favor, with solid hits by Jobs and Cook. That’s largely because Zuckerberg’s defensive posture rings hollow, and charactertizing Facebook as a service of the people — the Russian people, maybe! — and a victim is, shall we say, not at all aligned with the truth.

In other words, if he wanted to borrow from the Trump playbook, he should have used another technique: “I hear you, Tim, and I care.”

Until then, you can enjoy the back and forth below:

This article originally appeared on