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Privacy and advertising debates turned Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg into enemies

Apple CEO Tim Cook

The New York Times delved deep into the fractured relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Now that Apple is formally launching its "Do Not Track" privacy feature, Facebook and Apple are in all-out war — and their CEOs are on very bad terms, according to a new report from the New York Times.

Apple and Facebook used to exist in a quiet, codependent relationship, according to the Times report, but the friction started more than a decade ago when Apple sought a software partnership with Facebook and was quickly rebuffed. The two CEOs became more publicly confrontational after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2017, when Cook apparently told Zuckerberg that he would handle the fallout by having Facebook remove all user information collected outside of its apps (an idea that Zuckerberg reportedly rejected out of hand, for obvious reasons).

In 2017, a political group associated with Facebook drafted anonymous documents that criticized Cook and appeared to indicate he was interested in running for president, according to the Times. Then, in 2018, Apple launched its new corporate motto, "Privacy is a fundamental human right," taking aim directly at Facebook's ad-based business model.

When Apple announced in June 2020 that it was building a new feature to help users opt out of ad tracking, Facebook went public with its outrage, claiming the move would hurt small businesses. And in an earnings call earlier this year, Zuckerberg said, "We increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors." With iOS 14.5 on the way, the brawl between the two only continues to ramp up. And so do the stakes.

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