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Apple CEO Tim Cook: Social Media Spreads Division, Manipulation, and Lies

November 1, 2017, 10:55 PM UTC

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the worlds of social media and U.S. tax policy are in disarray.

The leader of the iPhone-maker shared his reservations about Russian election meddling and government tax policy in an interview with NBC Nightly News on Wednesday night.

On the issue of Moscow targeting U.S. voters with disinformation amid the 2016 presidential election, Cook talked about how easy it is to abuse social media platforms. He said that politically persuasive ads bought by overseas regimes are just a fraction of a deeper problem.

“I don’t believe the big issue are ads from foreign governments,” Cook said, touching on a topic that legislators have been grilling rivals such as Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), and Twitter (TWTR) about in Congressional committee hearings over the past couple of days. “I believe that’s like 0.1% of the bigger issue.”

“The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers and to influence their thinking,” Cook continued. “This to me is the number one through 10 issue.”

In another clip, Cook laid into the nation’s corporate tax policies.

“Tax reform is sorely needed in this country,” he told NBC anchor Lester Holt. “The biggest issue with corporations in this country is that if you earn money outside the United States, which most companies increasingly will—and it’s taxed in those countries, by the way—the only way that you can bring it into the U.S. and invest is if you pay 40%.”

“This is kind of a crazy thing to do,” Cook said. “So what do they do? They don’t bring it to the United States. Well, this isn’t good for the U.S. There’s no tax receipts there and it’s not good for investment in the U.S.”

“This needs to be fixed in my view,” Cook concluded. “It should have been fixed years ago, but let’s get it done now.”

Cook’s remarks are hardly surprising as they echo what he’s said in previous interviews.

Apple has taken heat for parking more than $200 billion in cash offshore in havens like Ireland to avoid paying a huge tax bill for bringing the money back to the U.S., but Cook has repeatedly defended the practice as well within the company’s legal right. In Dec. 2015, for instance, Cook told 60 Minutes‘ Charlie Rose that allegations that Apple doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes are “total political crap.”

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Republicans in the House have recently been at work on new tax bill, one that President Donald Trump says will contain “massive tax cuts.” Legislators plan to unveil the draft piece of legislation on Thursday, the same day Apple reports its quarterly earnings.