Apple CEO Tim Cook has warned Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates that technology — and social media in particular — can divide society even as it’s intended to bring people together.
“The Internet has enabled so much and empowered so many,” Cook said on Friday in an address at MIT’s graduation ceremonies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “But it can also be a place where basic rules of decency are suspended and pettiness and negativity thrive.”
Apple, which makes most of its money from selling hardware such as the iPhone, has taken only tentative steps into social media products. In 2010, it introduced a service called Ping, which was tied to iTunes, where it sells music, films and TV shows. Ping let users share their music preferences with contacts, but was shut down in 2012.
Social media websites run by Twitter and Facebook became the focus of scrutiny during the US presidential election, where the promulgation of news stories whose veracity was questionable was seen by many pundits as having played a role in steering votes toward now-President Donald Trump. Twitter also has stepped up efforts against harassment on its service, banning some for abusive speech against others.
Watch Tim Cook’s speech (his presentation starts at the seven-minute mark):
Cook joked in his speech that students at MIT, which is reputed for its computer science programme, may have hacked Trump’s Twitter account.
“I can tell college students are behind it because most of the tweets happen at 3am,” he said.
Cook uses Twitter to promote Apple products and address broader social and political themes. Last week, he criticised Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord. Earlier this week, he posted pictures from Apple’s annual developer conference in San Jose, California. — Reported by Alex Webb, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP