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Facebook targets Apple over privacy policy update, Apple says users must get a choice

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Earlier this year, Apple announced updates to its App Store privacy policies that required all developers to disclose how and what data they collect (and how it is handled), alongside offering users the choice to opt of being tracked across apps and websites. The latter is what enables ad tracking, and even though Apple has delayed the enforcement of these rules to early next year, Facebook was not too happy about it. Now, the social media giant is running full-page newspaper ads that target Apple for enforcing a rule that seriously hurts small businesses and their ability to reach customers via personalized ads. 

Facebook says limiting personalized ads will be “devastating to small businesses” and that they affect larger companies too, like itself. In addition to running full-page newspaper ads voicing its concern, Facebook also went into detail about how Apple’s new privacy policies are more about profit than privacy in a blog post. Facebook argues that small businesses could see a drop of over 60% in website sales from ads if ad tracking is killed

More about profit than privacy: Facebook

“We believe Apple is behaving anti-competitively by using their control of the App Store to benefit their bottom line at the expense of app developers and small businesses,” Facebook adds. The company has also created a dedicated page titled “Small businesses deserve to be heard” where people whose businesses will be affected by the Apple policy change can raise their concerns and make their voices heard. 

Apple’s response

Apple responded by claiming that Facebook need not change its approach towards personalized ads in the wake of the iOS 14 privacy policy changes, it only has to offer users a choice.

“We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice,” Apple said in a statement shared with TheVerge

Facebook only has to give users a choice: Apple

To give you some context, Apple’s privacy updates in iOS 14 will require developers to disclose how they collect and process user data, all the permissions their apps need, etc. on the very listing page on the App Store. Apple says this approach will make users aware of an app’s tracking and data usage behavior, and developers who don’t play ball stand the risk of getting their apps removed from the app repository

Apple recently attacked Facebook, albeit indirectly, for not being able to accept the policy change. In case you’re wondering how the app privacy disclosures look, here’s a sample of the lengthy list of privacy disclosures for the Facebook app on App Store:

Facebook is not quite done yet

However, it appears that  Facebook plans to run another ad against Apple on Friday, as per BuzzFeed News editor John Paczkowski who shared a draft text of its contents. Facebook claims that Apple’s policy change will make the internet much more expensive as businesses might have to charge a fee to survive in the absence of personalized ads.

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