With the introduction of the AppTrackingTransparency framework in iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, Apple gave its users complete control over which third-party applications get to track their activity across other apps.
Any third-party apps that want to track users outside their confines to create targeted ads must now request users for their permission to do so.
Facebook, which is perhaps the biggest aggregator of user data out there, was quick to proclaim itself the champion of small businesses and go after Apple for the change.
Apple isn’t one to shy away from a fight (especially when the pro-privacy tech giant is in the right), and promptly clapped back, noting that “users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites”.
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
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Facebook’s anti-Apple campaign is more for the benefit of Facebook and other digital ad giants than it is for your average user and their small business.
“This is a laughable attempt from Facebook to distract you from its poor track record of anticompetitive behavior and privacy issues as it tries to derail pro-privacy changes from Apple that are bad for Facebook’s business,” said the EFF.
The digital ad industry has actually built up targeted ads as being more effective than traditional, contextual ones for its own gain, with many studies revealing that most of the money businesses make from targeted ads actually goes into the piggy banks of user data aggregators like Facebook.
While Facebook is putting up a front of ‘fighting for the little guy’, it is actually trying to prevent losing access to user data on a large scale.
Small businesses would actually make just as much if they switched back from targeted ads to contextual ads that aren’t based on user tracking data. But with large data brokers like Facebook pushing targeted ads big-time, that isn’t really possible in the industry’s current landscape.
“Overall, AppTrackingTransparency is a great step forward for Apple. When a company does the right thing for its users, EFF will stand with it, just as we will come down hard on companies that do the wrong thing. Here, Apple is right and Facebook is wrong. Next step: Android should follow with the same protections. Your move, Google,” concluded the EFF.
Does this stance not go against CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new ‘privacy-focused’ direction for Facebook?