A new privacy feature released Monday reflects the widening gulf between Facebook and Apple—and their leaders. The feature makes iPhone owners choose whether to let apps like Facebook track them across other apps, a practice that's central to targeting users with tailored ad content. Should iPhone users reject tracking, online advertising in general—and Facebook specifically—will suffer, the New York Times reports. The inter-company tension in that situation also shows up in the deteriorating relationship between their chief executives. Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg encounter each other mostly in passing these days, associates say, and have taken personal shots at each other as their conflicting versions for the future of the Internet—argued in terms of privacy—have solidified. The two even disagree about their companies' relationship. "We increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors," Zuckerberg said earlier this year. "If I’m asked who our biggest competitors are, they would not be listed," Cook said recently.
Cook calls for an Internet that's safer and more private. It's a vision with Apple in control, per the Times, often collecting fees from users for its trouble. Zuckerberg wants a more open Internet with Facebook and other services free to users and paid for by advertisers. Cook says online privacy is a human right, per CNET, and Zuckerberg says Apple's move will hurt small businesses and increase costs across the Internet. Apple's new privacy feature is really about profit, Facebook said. "Free, ad-supported services have been essential to the growth and vitality of the Internet, but Apple is trying to rewrite the rules in a way that benefits them and holds back everyone else," a spokeswoman said. Cook has discounted those "flimsy arguments," saying, "I think that you can do digital advertising and make money from digital advertising without tracking people when they don't know they're being tracked." (Read more Apple stories.)