'Be fearless': Tim Cook praises #MeToo, Parkland students in Duke commencement speech

Tim Cook at Duke

Cook also seemed to take a swipe at Facebook, which has endured a barrage of negative press following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, by saying that Apple rejects the idea that privacy and technological innovation are mutually exclusive.

"When you say we, as an organization, take privacy very seriously, it is an effective recruiting tool and one to gain a competitive advantage" for a younger audience, says Rashmi Knowles, field Chief Technology Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa at RSA Security. Indeed, during a recent visit to Facebook, an official told Barron's the controversy swirling around the Cambridge Analytica privacy flap, as well as the company's role in the 2016 presidential election, has gnawed at employees concerned about the company's image. "So we choose a different path: Collecting as little of your data as possible".

"The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer - if our customer was our product", Cook said then. When Cook criticized Facebook on data privacy in an interview with MSNBC last month, it prompted an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Cook said his friend and mentor, Steve Jobs, showed him to never accept things as they are, but to dare to achieve something greater.

"No generation has ever had more power than yours", Cook said at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium. In every way and every turn, the question we ask is not what can we do, but what should we do, he further added.

In many ways, Cook's address was similar to Steve Jobs' now-famous commencement speech at Stanford University from 2005 titled "How to live before you die". However, when it comes to Apple, the Cupertino giant has followed a stringent privacy policy.

The company caught flack when it announced in February a plan to move iCloud accounts registered in mainland China to state-run Chinese servers.

In 2014, meanwhile, hackers were able to access private photographs belonging to celebrities before posting them online.

Cook, who often weighs in on social issues, also used his platform at Duke University to praise the "fearless" women who have spoken out in the #MeToo movement, the Parkland student advocating for tighter gun control, and people who "fight for the rights of immigrants".

Related news: