- Apple is starting to roll out privacy changes to iOS 14 that will require users to opt in to allow ad tracking.
- Facebook is not happy and has launched an ad campaign against it.
- Facebook is telling users that providing access to their activity will lead to personalised ads and will support small businesses that rely on ads to reach customers.
Two of Silicon Valley's largest tech giants, Apple and Facebook, are in a bitter fight that revolves around the iPhone data of millions of people and whether tech companies should be able to track that data as easily as they do now without people's consent.
Various types of data collected from users are used by companies like Facebook to personalise ads to an individual person based on demographics, geographic location, interests, and activity. It is important here to note that these personalised ads are one of the largest sources of revenue for Facebook.
Late last year, Apple introduced its new privacy-centered changes that forced all app developers on the App-Store to explicitly ask users for permission to collect this data. As expected Facebook is not happy with these changes.
The social media giant is now launching a new ad campaign. It invites its users to help small businesses through tough times. We don't need to say that the ad takes a ride in the economic mess caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The video ad was released on Thursday with the following tagline "Good ideas deserve to be found".
Facebook has even taken out full-page newspaper ads railing against Apple's changes, and both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook have made a series of increasingly hostile public remarks.
Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook used a speech he gave at a data privacy conference in Brussels to excoriate social media companies whose business models rely on collecting "vast troves of personal data" to sell targeted ads. "An interconnected ecosystem of companies and data brokers, of purveyors of fake news and pedlars of division, of trackers and hucksters just looking to make a quick buck, is more present in our lives than it has ever been," said Cook.
In the coming weeks, Apple will update its iOS software for iPhones to require apps to get explicit consent to track what people are doing on their phones for the purposes of sharing it with third parties.
Some apps, like Facebook, allow for some data tracking to be manually disabled. But by default, it is turned on. That gives the company reams of personal data on who we are and what we are doing, which it then vacuums up, packages, and uses to sell ads.
Starting sometime early this spring, Apple will require apps to send a push alert where people can either choose to "ask app not to track" or "allow."
We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it's used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first. pic.twitter.com/UnnAONZ61I— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 17, 2020
The conflict between Apple and Facebook largely boils down to the difference in their business models. Mark Zuckerberg has long argued that the only way to build a sustainable social network that connects billions of people is for the platform to be free to use and supported by advertising.
It is often said that when a tech service is "free," users pay mightily with their data. And that is the case with Facebook, which has a lucrative business of selling data to third-parties, like data brokers and advertisers.
Apple, meanwhile, is mostly in the hardware business. Apple makes most of its cash by selling iPhones, iPads, and laptops. While Apple has apps that do a fair share of data mining, Apple claims it does not share that data with third parties. No doubt Apple's upcoming software update helps its image as a privacy protector.