Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Ditches Facebook Over User-Data Profiteering

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who told USA TODAY he's leaving Facebook over concers about how the social media site handles users' information. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Ditches Facebook Over User-Data Profiteering

Facebook's "profits are all based on the user's info, but the users get none of the profits back," he says.

Amid continuing fallout over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and revelations of the vast reach of Facebook's data-mining, Apple co-founder and privacy advocate Steve Wozniak said that he's ditching the social media site over its profiting off of users' personal information.

"Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and ... Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this," the man known as the Woz said in an email to USA TODAY. "The profits are all based on the user's info, but the users get none of the profits back."

"Apple," in contrast, "makes its money off of good products, not off of you," Wozniak added. "As they say, with Facebook, you are the product."

Before deactivating his account, he said he "was surprised to see how many categories for ads and how many advertisers I had to get rid of, one at a time. I did not feel that this is what people want done to them."

"Ads and spam are bad things these days and there are no controls over them. Or transparency," Wozniak added.

Though only just now deactivating his account, Wozniak has levied similar criticism at Facebook in the past. He said in 2015, for example, "Companies like Google and Facebook are trying to make money off knowing things about you; they're trying to funnel things to you and make money that way." And last year he said, "I admire Facebook, but I'm a little scared of the power Facebook and Google get and I avoid them more than most people."

Woz's ditching of the social media platform--the latest departure by a high-profile user--comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with lawmakers ahead of his hearings before Senate and House committees this week.

According to prepared remarks (pdf), Zuckerberg will tell the House Energy and Committee, "We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here."

Privacy advocates, however, are pointing out that "this problem doesn't begin and end with Facebook," and are urging all tech companies to protect users' information from exploitation by backing a "Security Pledge."

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