Facebook Takes Out Full-Page Newspaper Ads to Attack Apple’s iOS Privacy Changes

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Facebook has today attacked Apple in a series of full-page newspaper ads, asserting that iOS 14‘s privacy changes regarding data gathering and targeted advertising are bad for small businesses (via Bloomberg).

The ads are running in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, feature the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

Earlier this year, Apple introduced a number of privacy changes that curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data on users and target adverts. In ‌‌iOS 14‌‌, Apple has made the “Identifier for Advertisers,” used by Facebook and its advertising partners for ad targeting, an opt-in feature, providing more transparency for users who would prefer not to be tracked in apps and on websites. The update simply asks users if they want to agree to ad tracking or prevent cross-app and cross-site tracking to provide targeted ads.

‌‌iOS 14‌‌ also has a prominent “Tracking” section in the Privacy portion of the Settings app, where users can disable the option for apps to track them altogether. Even if this feature is toggled off, apps must still ask permission to track users across apps and websites owned by other companies, which is a blow to the silent ad-related tracking that has been going on behind the scenes.

Facebook has previously cautioned that Apple’s changes would lead to difficulties, not only for its own business model, but also for small businesses who use its platform to advertise. Facebook claims that ads displayed without personalized targeting generate 60 percent fewer sales than ads that do target consumers.

Apple responded to the criticisms after delaying the roll out of the new privacy measures, accusing Facebook making clear its intent “to collect as much data as possible across both first and third party products to develop and monetize detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues to expand to include more of their products.”

The full-page ads are the latest salvo in the increasingly heated tensions between the companies. Facebook has heavily criticized Apple in recent months, chastising the company’s App Store policies, “stranglehold as a gatekeeper,” and fees structure. It has also repeatedly leveled accusations of of anti-competitive conduct at Apple, such as for disallowing Messenger from being selected as the default on iOS.

With iOS 14.3, Apple introduced App Store privacy labels, which clearly indicate to users how data is collected by apps they may choose to download. Last week, Facebook-owned WhatsApp protested the App Store privacy labels, saying that users may be discouraged from using its app.

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