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Cook talks Apple's social activism in interview promoting World AIDS Day plans

In an interview published on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted the company's World AIDS Day charity initiatives, while insisting that he and the company are acting beyond selfish interests.

"Of course corporations should have values, because people should have values," the executive told USA Today. "And corporations are just a bunch of people."

Cook noted that Apple throws its weight behind many civil rights issues, and he thinks it's "key that people think about what they stand for and help their communities." The company wants to "leave the world better than we found it," he continued.

The executive deflected charges of hypocrisy, given that Apple's social and charity stances can serve as a form of marketing, and the company continues to do business in countries where homosexuality is illegal —despite Cook himself being gay and the company taking an active, sometimes political role in U.S. LGBT issues. For World AIDS Day, the company is mostly just donating proceeds from some media and accessory sales, along with a small portion of Apple Pay transaction fees.

"We'll always help the most people through our products, because they empower people to do great things themselves," Cook claimed. "But this (RED) partnership allows us to touch a group of people we normally wouldn't. Sub-Saharan Africa is not a big marketplace for us. This is about trying to lift people up."

Asked whether Apple plans to take on new social matters in 2017, the CEO said his company will stay the course.

"We haven't shied away from being visible on a number of topics, and if it's something in our wheelhouse, we'll always be visible and stand up to protect as well as advance people's rights," he commented. "Every generation has a responsibility of expanding the definition of those rights, to move forward. So we'll very much continue to do that."