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Watch Tim Cook's Duke University Commencement Speech

15 May 2018

Apple CEO Tim Cook urged graduates of Duke University's 2018 class to "dare to think different".

"Fearlessness means taking the first step even if you don't know where it will take you", Cook said. 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.

He also pointed out as a notable fact that the company rejects "the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy".

When asked what he would do if he were in Zuckerberg's shoes, Cook replied: 'I wouldn't be in this situation'. 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.

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"Facebook is benefiting off of harvesting and monetizing your data and Apple is just there to help you succeed in life", she said.

Speaking at the commencement ceremony at Duke University, Cook encouraged the students in attendance to learn from the example set by Apple founder Steve Jobs. Cook said. "Because Steve taught us that's how change happens, and from him I learned to never be content with the way that things are". Ever since Apple itself became the center of attraction in the United States government's efforts to weaken encryption on smartphones and cellular networks, the company has become a poster boy for protecting users' privacy even in the face of extreme pressure. Apple made the move after it unsuccessfully fought to be exempt from a controversial new cybersecurity law in the Asian nation, but the decision alarmed privacy advocates. Doing the right thing is baked within the culture of most tech companies here.

In 2014, meanwhile, hackers were able to access private photographs belonging to celebrities before posting them online. The 57-year-old told students to be fearless like the survivors of the Parkland school shooting and activists who spoke out against the epidemic of gun violence and rallied hundreds and thousands to join their cause after a former student killed 17 people in February.

Watch Tim Cook's Duke University Commencement Speech