Here’s what Tim Cook said about ‘fake news’ (video)

Everybody’s favorite soundbite: “It’s killing people’s minds in a way.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook made headlines in the U.K. and roused passions back home with remarks made in a British schoolroom about the spread of fabricated stories on the internet. Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together from excerpts in The Telegraph and a video clip that aired Friday on Good Morning Britain:

We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth. It’s killing people’s minds in a way.

We have to give consumers tools to help with this and we’ve got to filter out part of it before it even gets there without losing the great openness of the internet.

We need the modern version of a public-service announcement campaign. It can be done quickly if there is a will.

It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public. There has to be a massive campaign. We have to think through every demographic.

This is one of today’s chief problems. It is not something that has a simple solution.

Cook’s comments stirred a hornet’s nest at Patently Apple, a U.S. news site whose primary mission is to monitor the company’s patent filings. Founder Jack Purcher late Friday finally shut down a discussion thread that had burst into flames over his take:

The issue of Fake News was born in Silicon Valley and it’s (sic) sole purpose of making it an issue was because they couldn’t accept that they lost the election. Fake News was one of the major excuses used by the loony left. The silliness of it is staggering and seeing Apple’s CEO get caught up in it is a sad day for many fans hoping that Cook will just stick to all things Apple when he’s talking on behalf of Apple.

Note: The spread of false “news” for profit is bigger problem for Facebook, Google and Twitter than it is for Apple, which does extreme filtering on its news apps.

Below: The Good Morning Britain video.


  1. John Kirk said:

    I just listened to a podcast (You Are Not So Smart) on the “backfire” effect. Essentially, if we don’t identify with an issue — such as whether Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb — we’re willing to hear evidence for and against the proposition and to change our opinions accordingly.

    However, if we make an issue part of our identity, (I am a liberal, I am a conservative, etc.) then when the issue is attacked, we feel we’re being attacked. MRI studies show that our brains react the same way when our political views are attacked as when we’re attacked by a bear. We go into fight or flight mode. The end result, unfortunately, is that if our core values are challenged by contradictory facts, we double-down and become even MORE convinced that we were right.

    In one study, people who were disinclined to get vaccinations were shown articles that encouraged getting vaccinations. After viewing those articles, the test group was LESS inclined to get vaccinations than before.

    If we really want to persuade others, the first thing we need to do is to understand them. Attacking them actually just makes things worse.

    “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen R. Covey

    February 11, 2017
    • Gianfranco Pedron said:

      “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
      … The bear wouldn’t care.
      … A dog might, if promised a treat.
      … Isn’t that how Trump won the election?
      BTW, I’d love to know how researchers got the test subjects to lie still long enough to get an MRI scan with a bear in the lab. 🙂

      February 11, 2017
    • Ken Cheng said:

      I like it, seems to explain the Stratfordian view of who wrote Shakespeare when you mention any of the evidence supporting the Earl of Oxford.

      February 11, 2017
  2. Jonathan Mackenzie said:

    “The issue of Fake News was born in Silicon Valley and it’s (sic) sole purpose of making it an issue was because they couldn’t accept that they lost the election. Fake News was one of the major excuses used by the loony left.”

    These are the words of someone who does not understand the impact of social media on our lives.

    There are people who actually to this day believe that a pizza joint in DC was part of a child sex ring involving Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. One of the pieces of evidence proving this horrible idea was: CHILD SIZED FURNITURE. What kind of person sees child sized tables and chairs at a family restaurant and automatically assumes it must be for the captive children that are used as sex slaves?

    I thought it was a joke, but I saw more and more about “pizza gate” on twitter. You can check out the hashtag #Pizzagate if you dare to explore the outer reaches of human gullibility.

    You don’t need to be a liberal loony to realize that a platform that gives these kind of outrageous ideas equal footing with the actual truth is not an ideal way to achieve a well informed electorate.

    And it is not a liberal loony who is claiming that any negative polls about Trump are fake news.

    Most of us learned growing up about the impact of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast. This was an early example of the dangers of fake news. Now social media in effect gives each person his or her own radio station to broadcast as much lunacy as they care to, couched in the authority of being “real” because others believe it too.

    When someone like Jack Purcher pretends this is an invention by a bunch of sore loser cry babies, he advances a dangerously ignorant argument.

    February 11, 2017
  3. Fred Stein said:

    Fake news pre-dates “new” media. Decades ago, I heard people claimed that Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor in advance, but allowed it to happen because he wanted us to get into WWII. Trump trotted out his “birther” lie on TV in 2011 and then later on Twitter.

    From Wikipedia on Yellow Journalism, “The term was coined in the mid-1890s to characterize the sensational journalism.”

    We can only respond by politely, persistently, telling the truth.

    February 11, 2017
    • John Kirk said:

      Yes, fake news has always been with us. Just before America’s entry into World War II, there were stories that circulated in the south that the Nazi’s were going to set up Negroes are overlords. I mean, that doesn’t’ even make sense, but most of these stories don’t.

      You could go back to Roman times and beyond and find fake news. Heck, Yellow Journalism a the turn of the 19th century thrived on fake news.

      One of the differences today is that fake news is spread faster. But we also have tools to combat it too. We didn’t have Snopes and other such things to test urban legends when I was growing up. We just mostly just accepted those things as true. On the whole, I think the Internet cures more than it harms. At least, for me, I am far more informed since the internet than I was before the internet arrived.

      February 11, 2017
  4. Richard Wanderman said:

    In my mind, what FOX has done by not making a clear separation between news and editorial really stoked this.

    People who get all of their “news” from FOX don’t understand that FOX has a viewpoint that’s embedded in everything they broadcast. They make no attempt to be objective.

    This is why when folks who watch FOX listen to NPR they feel it has a huge liberal bias. Relative to FOX of course it does, almost all mainstream media does, but that’s relative to FOX.

    From FOX-land it’s not a big jump to fake news land because FOX doesn’t do news, it does opinion which is what fake news is.

    I doubt the folks who are slinging this stuff around do much reading or know much about history. It’s like we’re all subjects in a giant Milgram experiment and some of us know what’s what, and the rest have no clue.

    We’ve been here before… and we don’t seem to learn from history that we don’t seem to learn from history (I know, I slaughtered the quote).

    February 11, 2017
  5. Tom Wyrick said:

    “Cook’s comments stirred a hornet’s nest at Patently Apple, a U.S. news site whose primary mission is to monitor the company’s patent filings. Founder Jack Purcher late Friday finally shut down a discussion thread that had burst into flames over his take:”

    Pitcher is a hot head who is also nutty for Trump. He can’t stick to the subject of Apple patents when an opportunity presents itself to defend the nation’s Prevaricator in Chief.

    February 12, 2017

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