Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Earnings Candor Might Just Be A Smart Political Move

October 31, 2018

By Chloe Aiello

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was notably forthcoming during the social media company's Tuesday earnings conference call, particularly about fellow tech competition. But comparing itself to Apple might just be Facebook's latest brilliant political maneuver.

"I think it is pretty smart for them to do politically ー partially because Apple and their CEO Tim Cook has been so unusually candid about his opinion on Facebook recently and data privacy ー to kind of draw them into the mix," deputy technology editor at Quartz, Mike Murphy, told Cheddar on Wednesday.

At a conference in Brussels last week, Cook took Silicon Valley to task for using customer data for profit, while falling short of naming Facebook explicitly.

In its earnings report on Tuesday, Facebook ($FB) narrowly missed revenue and user estimates and forecast a continued ramp-up in spending. Zuckerberg said on a Tuesday evening call with investors that he expects 2019 “to be another year of significant investment” as the company grapples with privacy scandals, misinformation, and fundamental shifts in its business.

He also said Apple's iMessage ($AAPL) is Facebook's "biggest competitor by far" in messaging, even though the tech giant isn't a social media company, according to Quartz.

Murphy said the rhetoric is a smart way to take some of the heat off Facebook, which has been under increasing scrutiny for user privacy issues and misinformation since its Cambridge Analytica data scandal in March 2018. Plus, he said the company has a point.

"At the end of the day," he said, "what is the difference between WhatsApp and iMessage? If Facebook products are getting regulated heavily, why isn't iMessage getting regulated? Where does the line get drawn between something that's part of the phone and something that is just a service you use on the phone? I think that there's a case to be made that if you are going to regulate messenger app the same rules should apply."

For full interview click here.

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