Power Players

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: 'Of all Big Tech, Facebook is No. 1 that I don't like'

Steve Wozniak
Alberto E. Rodriguez | Getty Images | VES

Steve Wozniak is officially done with Facebook.

On a March episode of the "Steve-O's Wild Ride!" podcast, hosted by entertainer Steve-O, Wozniak said that he and his wife both recently deactivated their Facebook accounts over data privacy concerns. When he "likes" a friend's post, the interaction isn't about connecting with someone he knows, the Apple co-founder said – it's about revealing his interests to advertisers.

That's enough to keep him off the platform for the foreseeable future, he said, noting that he's "scared a bit" about the amount of access Facebook had to his life: "Of all Big Tech, Facebook is probably No. 1 that I don't like."

Defending his decision, Wozniak seemed to reference a 2018 blog post written by Facebook's then-product management director David Baser, who explained how Facebook and its partners collect and share personal information – even for people without accounts. (Facebook did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.)

"I read how it can still grab data and [send it] to Facebook, even when you're not using the [platform]," Wozniak said. "I don't believe this is right, because you should [be] honest, [so that] that every person who uses it knows what they're doing."

Wozniak seems to have been aware of Facebook's privacy standards for some time, but the tipping point that led him to deactivate his account wasn't sparked by personalized ads on his feed. Instead, it came from months of habitual, mindless scrolling on social media.

"I started looking at Facebook because I kind of like little videos of dogs ... and the dogs being saved by people," he said. "It became so habit forming ... and I don't like habits, because that's addiction."

Wozniak isn't the only one wary of Facebook's privacy standards. In October, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager for civic misinformation, testified to Congress that the platform actively prioritizes user engagement over safety and mental health. Facebook presents "false choices ... between connecting with those you love online and your personal privacy," Haugen stated.

Wozniak said he tends to avoid social media in general, but added that he was still on TikTok, largely to watch more dog videos. Recent studies have shown that TikTok is heavily patrolled by third-party trackers that collect user data for generally unclear purposes, as CNBC Make It noted last month.

To stay connected with friends and family, Wozniak — perhaps predictably — said he primarily relies on Apple services.

"We share photos in our families on iCloud," Wozniak said. "It costs $2 a month, right? You share photos with albums, and other friends of the families can be in on it, and it's protected. It's private. Nobody can take the data and find out everything you're doing."

If Apple can provide that service for $2 per month, Wozniak argued, then Facebook should be able to create similarly inexpensive ways to allow friends to communicate with each other privately.

"Just let us pay for privacy," he said.

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