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Steve Jobs Tried To Warn Mark Zuckerberg About Privacy In 2010 ( 109

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Zuckerberg should have heeded what he heard from the late Steve Jobs eight years ago. Then, when the social network had a measly half-billion users, Jobs spoke at The Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD conference, where Zuckerberg was in the audience, waiting to be interviewed himself, and described what privacy meant. Journalist Walt Mossberg asked Jobs his thoughts on recent privacy issues around Facebook (which at the time was revamping its privacy controls after criticism it was forcing people to share data) and Google (which was literally recording private wifi information), and whether Silicon Valley looks at privacy differently than the rest of the world.

"Silicon Valley is not monolithic," Jobs responded, "We've always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the Valley." Apple, for instance, does not leave it up to developers to decide whether to be dutiful about warning users that their apps are tracking their location data, instead forcing pop-ups on users to alert them that an app is tracking them, and to turn off that ability if they don't want. "We do a lot of things like that, to ensure that people know what these apps are doing," he added. It's a stance his successor, Tim Cook, still holds. Mossberg then asked Jobs if that applied to Apple's own apps in the cloud. Here's what Jobs said: "Privacy means people know what they're signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. I'm an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you're going to do with their data." If the company had been more forthright about how developers could take data shared with them by Facebook users and sold to third parties, it may not have been in the mess it's in today.
Additionally, TechCrunch reports that Zuckerberg was warned about app permissions in 2011 by European privacy campaigner and lawyer Max Schrems. "In August 2011, Schrems filed a complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission exactly flagging the app permissions data sinkhole (Ireland being the focal point for the complaint because that's where Facebook's European HQ is based)."

"[T]his means that not the data subject but 'friends' of the data subject are consenting to the use of personal data," wrote Schrems in the 2011 complaint, fleshing out consent concerns with Facebook's friends' data API. "Since an average facebook user has 130 friends, it is very likely that only one of the user's friends is installing some kind of spam or phishing application and is consenting to the use of all data of the data subject. There are many applications that do not need to access the users' friends personal data (e.g. games, quizzes, apps that only post things on the user's page) but Facebook Ireland does not offer a more limited level of access than 'all the basic information of all friends.'" [...] "The data subject is not given an unambiguous consent to the processing of personal data by applications (no opt-in). Even if a data subject is aware of this entire process, the data subject cannot foresee which application of which developer will be using which personal data in the future. Any form of consent can therefore never be specific," he added. It took Facebook from September 2012 until May 2014 and May 2015 to implement changes and tighten app permissions.
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Steve Jobs Tried To Warn Mark Zuckerberg About Privacy In 2010

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  • Sitcom (Score:5, Funny)

    by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @04:44PM (#56324487)
    The Brits could turn Zuck into a sitcom "The rise and fall of Mark Zuckerberg ", call him something like Reginald Perrin perhaps...
  • He is sorely missed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    One of the visionaries of our time. Spot on about privacy in this case.

    He was taken from us too soon. While Tim Cook has followed in Jobs' footprints, he is no Jobs. Had Jobs been here today, I'm sure we would hear some scathing rebukes of Facebook, Google, et al. both in terms of the data they steal from users, and the data they cozily provide to government agencies.

    Thank you, Steve, for all you did. At least there is a legacy for others to try and follow. Rest in peace.

    • by The New Guy 2.0 ( 3497907 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:11PM (#56324615)

      Jobs was an innovator; Cook is a maintainer.

      Apple has yet to announce a new product under the Cook administration, just version number changing releases of nearly everything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by f00zbll ( 526151 )
        Jobs did a lot of good things, but he also took away the ability to have folders on iOS. Just last night I was trying to organize photos, but in iOS 11 you still can't tag a photo. On MacOS you can tag photos once you've downloaded the photos. Last night I was screaming "Fuck job! I'm glad he is dead, son of a bitch. I just want to organize my photos into folder, but noooo Jobs decided he knows how to organize my data better."

        Overall I like the simplicity of iOS, but there are certain things that annoy me

        • by brantondaveperson ( 1023687 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @06:21PM (#56324913) Homepage
          Folders have always been an awful way to organise things, they were just easy to implememt in filesystems, and so weâ(TM)ve been stuck with them for decades. Labels, filters, searches and automatic photo analysis is so much better, itâ(TM)s not even funny.
          • by epine ( 68316 )

            Folders have always been an awful way to organise things, they were just easy to implement in filesystems, and so we've been stuck with them for decades.

            Yes, hierarchy and recursion are problem domain and implementation domain dead ends.

            On my personal wiki, I am equally a consumer (of old notes) / producer (of new notes). I assure you, without hierarchy and recursion, my wiki structure would have become unmanageable long ago. I didn't have much hierarchy for the first six months, and it was chaos, so I de

          • Folders have always been an awful way to organise things, they were just easy to implememt in filesystems, and so weâ(TM)ve been stuck with them for decades. Labels, filters, searches and automatic photo analysis is so much better, itâ(TM)s not even funny.

            I find just the opposite. Folders are an absolute way to reference data/content. Labels, filters, searches etc. are fuzzy.

            Well, labels are OK - they work well in, for example, Gmail.

            So maybe my dislike of anything but folders in filesystems is just due to familiarity. Dang you, logic!

            • by bidule ( 173941 )

              Folders are an absolute way to reference data/content. Labels, filters, searches etc. are fuzzy.

              What's the difference between tagging a file as "/doc/social/facebook/photo/cat" and putting it in the /doc/social/facebook/photo/cat folder?

              A folder is just a unique, hierarchical, required tag.

          • "Folders have always been an awful way to organise things, they were just easy to implememt in filesystems, and so weâ(TM)ve been stuck with them for decades." OMG, are you a millenial by any chance? We have hierarchical file systems because they're a bloody good way of organising things. Just because we've had them for years doesn't mean they're a bad thing...
            • We have hierarchical filesystems because they're efficient to implement not to use. Classic filesystems have O(n) or, at best, O(log(n)) search for files in a directory. This starts to hurt even for log(n) when that can require multiple disk accesses, so the solution is to force the user to make n smaller by distributing their files across multiple directories.

              It turned out that this hierarchical organisation is not so great for many structures and so filesystems gained hard links, at which point the hi

          • Speak for yourself. Every time a web site or app replaces a convenient, organized list with a search tool, I want to bang my head against a wall.

            Replacing one paradigm with another is just marketing to make a new version look different, or a way to turn a document-centric system into an application-centric system (thus enforcing application lock-in). FYI, Apple has always been good at application-centric UIs, which is why I can't stand Apple products.

            Sometimes interfaces are supposed to coexist and work t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        Jobs was an innovator

        Jobs was an innovator the same way Led Zeppelin invented the blues.

      • Not so. Apple engineers and designers had to beg Jobs to build the iPhone. He batted it down numerous times.

      • Cook is a maintainer

        Well, I don't like how he maintains the code.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Taken from us? He had a curable decease but decided to go the alternative route with crystals and shit.

      • Well, to be kind would be to say he was stolen from us by a culture of charlatans that he chose to immerse himself into.

    • Privacy means people know what they're signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly.

      Which is completely correct, but having Jobs saying it is complete bullshit.

      Every time there's an upgrade to iOS and macOS there's a 60+ page legal contract you're supposed to agree to before you can continue. How many people have the legal qualifications to actually read and fully understand that? (Almost none) How many people just click "I Agree"? (Probably all)

      • It is really, really important for almost none of us to ever read the agreement. Because we're building the precedent. As you implied, nobody reads that crap. I always say 'toodle-doo' and click through. I would testify that I do so if pressed in a court to say so.

        Someday it's gonna all evaporate because of the precedent being developed. Nobody reads the click-thru, and it's thus unenforceable.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Remember the US brands that got into PRISM and the dates.
      Who was on the list early and who got added last. []
    • Is Saint Steve was so awesome then why did he not fly down on his angel wings and tell us all?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Steve Jobs uses privacy as a means of blocking the competition too. When he talks about fine grained permissions and such, it's convenient how the same mechanisms are used to force everything through the app store.

    It's also convenient how companies like Pebble took weeks to be approved.

    With Steve, take what he says with a grain of salt and wonder if there are hidden intentions here. Don't forget, he also made claims such as the Ogg format was illegal to try to bolster iTunes

  • Zuck got the domain by guessing a Clear Channel password at GoDaddy and listening in on company meetings. It wasn't supposed to be a news site, it was supposed to be about look-changing girls notifying their friends and law enforcement what they looked like tonight.

    For more, see movie The Accidental Billionaire.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:23PM (#56324677)

    ... sorry.

    It was just hanging there.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @05:31PM (#56324707)
    warnings usually come with the possibility of consequences. I don't see any forthcoming. The scandal's already blown over with little or not chance of government regulation. The hit they took to stock will evaporate once Walstreet realizes nobody's gonna stop this gravy train.

    The only thing of material consequence that might come out of this is that Trump might lose his data analytics. If he doesn't rebuild them (and he might not, he's none too bright and he's fired, pissed off or double crossed all the people who got him elected) then it'll hurt him in 2020.

    That said, so far it looks like the Dems are going to run another right of center Hilary style candidate and if that happens I don't think it'll matter.
    • You are assuming that people only care about legal consequences.

      Lots of people have warned about the societal consequences of what Facebook is doing.

      It's like saying "we never got sued for burning massive amounts of coal" while lots of people have warned you about global warming.
  • I mean, this is Steve Jobs, the man who declined to use modern medicine to save his own life, that we are talking about. Not what I call a great track record for wise decisions.

    • There are many things you can critisise the man for - but it does seem a bit harsh to criticise him for dying.
      • He didn't just die, he (according to his own doctor) committed suicide by refusing treatment upon discovery. He had an 85% chance of recovery since they got lucky and found it early.

        Barrie R. Cassileth, the chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's integrative medicine department,[115] said, "Jobs's faith in alternative medicine likely cost him his life.... He had the only kind of pancreatic cancer that is treatable and curable.... He essentially committed suicide."[116] According to Jobs's biographer, Walter Isaacson, "for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer – a decision he later regretted as his health declined".[117] "Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He was also influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, before finally having surgery in July 2004."[118]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          A PhD in Psychology, Barrie is not a reliable source on medicine or alternative medicine, she is an opportunist, a pyramid climber. I've found a number of technical misstatements in her books. I do think Jobs dallied longer than most average, but it is common, and some people simply say f' it rather than go through the time, pain and expense of risky treatment.
          • I do think Jobs dallied longer than most average, but it is common, and some people simply say f' it rather than go through the time, pain and expense of risky treatment.

            Expense was no problem and there were only two options: treatment or death. He chose death thinking he was smarter than a doctor only to realize that he was wrong but too late for it to matter.

          • Further, while Isaacson's book is great, Isaacson wrote it on a tight deadline and didn't get all the facts quite right. Schlender's "Becoming Steve Jobs" is great to read after Isaacson's book, and gives the impression Jobs was more of a victim of paralysis by analysis; he was analyzing all treatments and talking to doctors around the country and missed the time to act. Schlender's book also dispels a lot of the myths about Jobs, such as the sociopathic asshole myth. A bit true perhaps when he was young, b

          • Anyone with common sense is a reliable source on information about alternative medicine.

      • How you die is also important. If I die after adopting a breatharian diet, it's not cruel fate taking me before my time, it's me being stupid. Same goes for treating your cancer with energy crystals and tea.
    • Don't forget about him claiming a paternity test was wrong and coming up with some convoluted fuzzy math to get out of child support payments.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
    Zuck: Just ask.
    Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
    [Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
    Zuck: People just submitted it.
    Zuck: I don't know why.
    Zuck: They "trust me"
    Zuck: Dumb fucks.

  • by Jaryn ( 880486 ) on Sunday March 25, 2018 @06:41PM (#56325015)

    ...because, he's not wrong, really.

    Thing is, Apple got rich selling a premium product at premium prices. Google -- Apple's biggest competitor -- got rich giving away a service for free, and plastering targeted advertising in front of their tracked users. Of course Jobs would speak out against the practice.

    His stance is hardly surprising or visionary. It was business.

    So now Facebook takes it step further, with actual propaganda targeted to the most gullible people.

    I don't know what to say. It was predictable. And while I think it is wrong, I don't know how much I can blame Facebook. It comes down to people. As George Carlin said, "Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that."

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A real company lets a user listen to their music.
      A social media brands tracks the user and sells the data.
      A real company makes a useful product a user can buy.
      A social media company sells the users data as the product.
      • A real company lets a user listen to their music.

        A real company (Apple) is vigorously working to change the market so that 'free streaming of music' is a thing of the past.

  • Zuck has made his billions and sold his stocks. What does he care?

  • So far as I can see, Zuckerberg was born with a short cluestick on certain matters, and this will never change.

    Google Founders Talk Montessori []

    That's from 2010 (weren't we just talking about 2010?) and the era vibe just makes your skin crawl.

    So if Mark hasn't got the Montessori edge, what has he bot?

    He transferred to the exclusive private school Phillips Exeter Academy, in New Hampshire, in his junior year, where he won prizes in science (math, astronomy, and physics) and classical studies.

    In his youth, he a

  • Didnt like "EVERYONE" warn about facebook abusing privacy?

    Zuck sure guards his privacy, buying up adjcent property to keep the rifraff away.

    Canada has went at them a few times over privacy issues.

  • Mark unfriended Steve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We're supposed to see Jobs as a brilliant hero here on this... "he saw it all YEARS ago and warned about it" we are brethlessly told.

    Um... a couple of points:

    First, Steve Jobs was one of the main enablers of all this. He was the one that rolled out the iPhone and showed everybody how "insanely great" it would be to live their lives on their cell phones (oh, and just happen to store all their personal info in those phones and/or the big white fluffy safe innocent "cloud")

    Second, people ought to notice that w

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