Facebook continues to panic about upcoming privacy changes in iOS 14. The company has sent a new email to businesses today informing them that it has no choice but to comply with the iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency feature. Otherwise, Apple could remove Facebook from the App Store completely.
As first reported by iMore, Facebook has sent another round of emails to businesses informing them that while it disagrees with Apple’s planned changes, it has no choice but to follow them. Facebook says that the App Tracking Transparency feature, which requires apps to obtain consent from users before tracking them across other websites and apps, will have “hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness.”
The company also says that it believes “personalized ads and user privacy can coexist,” which is also a claim Apple has made. The two companies clearly have different versions of what constitutes “user privacy,” though.
Apple’s requirement that all apps in the App Store show a prompt to iOS 14 users in accordance with their AppTrackingTransparency framework will have hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness for businesses that advertise on mobile devices and across the web. Apple’s changes will benefit them, while hurting the industry and the ability for businesses of all sizes to market themselves efficiently and grow through personalized advertising. We believe that personalized ads and user privacy can coexist.
Also in the email, Facebook tells businesses that it has “no choice” but to show the prompt seen at the top of this story. Otherwise, Facebook tells businesses that it believes Apple could block Facebook and its other apps from the App Store completely.
Facebook told businesses that whilst it disagrees with Apple’s solution, it has ‘no choice’ but to show the opt-in prompt and to continue using Apple’s device identifier for advertising. The company states that it believes Apple could block Facebook and its other apps from the App Store if it doesn’t comply, bringing ‘further harm to the businesses and users that rely on our services.’
Finally, Facebook says that if users do opt out of tracking, there could be a reduction in “ad effectiveness and limitations on measurements.”
This is not the first time Facebook has warned businesses about the potential impact of the new iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency feature. Last month, Facebook was warning users about the impacts on marketing efforts. Facebook also took out a full-page ad in US newspapers to slam Apple’s changes.
The ads claim that Facebook is standing up to the iPhone maker on behalf of small businesses …
Facebook has published a blog post with more details. It also says it will back Epic Games in its ongoing legal battle over the App Store.
Bloomberg reports, and The Verge got a copy of the ad, above.
Facebook Inc. attacked Apple Inc. in a series of full-page newspaper ads Wednesday, claiming the iPhone maker’s anticipated mobile software changes around data gathering and targeted advertising are bad for small businesses.
The ads, slated to run in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, carry the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.” They home in on upcoming changes to Apple’s iOS 14 operating system that will curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data about mobile users and ply them with advertising.
The attack relates to the fact that iOS will next year force apps to ask for permission if they want to use ad-tracking. It’s expected that most users will refuse, which will mean apps won’t be able to easily offer personalized ads. Ads reflecting user interests earn more money for app developers than generic ads.
The change will significantly impact Facebook, as the ads it carries in the app will be worth less. The social network claims, however, that it doesn’t have its own interests in mind: it is instead standing up for small businesses.
The ad reads:
We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere
At Facebook, small business is at the core of our business. More than 10 million businesses use our advertising tools each month to find new customers, hire employees and engage with their communities.
Many in the small business community have shared concerns about Apple’s forced software update, which will limit businesses’ ability to run personalized ads and reach their customers effectively.
Forty-four percent of small to medium businesses started or increased their usage of personalized ads on social media during the pandemic, according to a new Deloitte study. Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.
While limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us, these changes will be devastating to small businesses, adding to the many challenges they face right now.
Small businesses deserve to be heard. We hear your concerns, and we stand with you. Join us at fb.com/SpeakUpForSmall
This is an unconvincing tack the company has taken before. Back in October, CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the claim while warning investors of the likely hit to its own ad revenues.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took aim at Apple on Thursday over its plans to limit advertisers’ ability to track iPhone users, suggesting the proposed changes could hurt small businesses and, by extention, the broader economy.
During Facebook’s quarterly earnings call, Zuckerberg told investors that “actions planned by platform companies like Apple could have a meaningful negative effect on small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond” […]
Zuckerberg argued that “personalized advertising is helping small businesses find customers, grow their businesses and create jobs,” and that measures to limit targeted ads, such as those by Apple and lawmakers in the European Union, would hurt those businesses’ ability to reach customers.
It follows the company yesterday taking a swipe at Apple in a statement to Reuters about planned European legislation known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which would force Apple to offer a more level playing field between its own apps and third-party ones.
“We hope the DMA will also set boundaries for Apple,” a Facebook spokesman said. “Apple controls an entire ecosystem from device to app store and apps, and uses this power to harm developers and consumers, as well as large platforms like Facebook,” he said.
Some are suggesting that Facebook is trying to divert attention from its continuing privacy woes over its spyware app pitched as a free VPN service. Reuters reports that Australia plans to fine Facebook over the app.
Sources close to Apple tell us the company is not opposed to ad-tracking, but simply wants it to be transparent to users.
The App Tracking Transparency feature will roll out sometime in early 2021. Apple had originally hoped to launch it with iOS 14 in September, but it ended up delaying the feature to give developers more time to prepare.
a coalition of eight civil and human rights organizations penned an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook regarding the company’s decision to delay the release of the new App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS 14.
Apple has now responded to that letter, doubling down on its privacy practices and offering more color on the decision to delay the App Tracking Transparency feature in the first place.
In a letter sent to the Ranking Digital Rights organization, Apple’s Jane Horvath, senior director of global privacy, reiterated that the company believes that “privacy is a fundamental human right.” Horvath explains that Apple delayed the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature in an effort to give developers more time to prepare for the changes.
The letter also confirms that the App Tracking Transparency feature, which is designed to allow users to disable tracking between different applications, is still coming next year. Once in effect, developers will also be required to ask for permission before tracking a user across apps or websites.
“We delayed the release of ATT to early next year to give developers the time they indicated they needed to properly update their systems and data practices, but we remain fully committed to ATT and to our expansive approach to privacy protections. We developed ATT for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and data brokers.”
Horvath goes on to emphasize that App Tracking Transparency features don’t prevent advertising, but rather encourages advertising that respects privacy:
“Advertising that respects privacy is not only possible, it was the standard until the growth of the Internet. Some companies that would prefer ATT is never implemented have said that this policy uniquely burdens small businesses by restricting advertising options, but in fact, the current data arms race primarily benefits big businesses with big data sets. Privacy-focused ad networks were the universal standard in advertising before the practice of unfettered data collection began over the last decade or so. Our hope is that increasing user demands for privacy and security, as well as changes like ATT, will make these privacy-forward advertising standards robust once more.”
Furthermore, Horvath has sharp criticism for Facebook, saying that the social network has “made clear” that its intent is to “collect as much data as possible” on its users:
“By contrast, Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting. Not only do they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about online browsing activity to target ads. Facebook executives have made clear their intent is 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.”
On the flip side, Facebook has criticized the App Tracking Transparency feature and said it could cause ad revenue to drop as much as 40%. Facebook has reportedly met with advertising partners to discuss the impact the change will have on advertising when users have the ability to easily opt-out of cross-platform tracking.
Apple emphasizes again today that advertising that protects user privacy is possible. For example, Apple gives users the ability to disable ad personalization based on first-party data in the Settings app. For users with Personalized Ads enabled, Apple groups together users with similar characteristics, which ensures that a campaign can’t identify a given user.
Once available in 2021, the App Tracking Transparency feature will be accessible by opening the Settings app, then looking for the Privacy menu, and looking for the Tracking section. Apple also says that its new “nutrition labels” for app privacy will be required in the App Store starting on December 8.
You can read the full letter below.