Facebook launches attack on Apple, saying new privacy policy change will hurt small businesses

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 17 December 2020 11:54 GMT
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Facebook has launched another major attack on Apple, arguing that an upcoming update to the iPhone could kill small businesses.

The company argues that a new change to the privacy policy on the iPhone – which asks users to opt in to having their activity tracked – will mean that Facebook’s ads will no longer be as effective.

It claimed that would push small businesses out of operation because they would no longer be able to target as ads as effectively.

Facebook also suggested that the new policy was really intended to increase Apple’s profits, rather than helping privacy.

But it confirmed that it would comply with the new changes, over fear that it could “face retaliation” from Apple, and that it “can’t take that risk”.

Still it accused Apple of acting anti-competitively, and said it would support developer Epic Games in its lawsuits against the company over the power of the App Store.

The ongoing dispute between the two companies relates to a feature called App Tracking Transparency, or ATT. It means that, after an upcoming update, iPhone users will be asked to opt in to having their data collected and aggregated as they move between apps – if they do not opt in, developers will lose access to the iPhone’s unique identifier, and will not be able to gather data to personalise ads.

Apple has argued, including in interviews with The Independent, that the changes are in keeping with a long-held commitment to privacy.

It said in a statement released after Facebook’s blog post that it was simply offering users a choice, and that it did not require Facebook to change policies.

“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," the company said. "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.”

Facebook says that decision would hurt not only its business but those who use its advertising platforms, including small businesses.

That conflict has led to a public fallout between the two companies, with attacks on each other coming from the very top of both Facebook and Apple.

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