Unlike with Google and Microsoft, Apple’s relationship with Facebook can’t even be described as being frenemies. They stand almost diametrically opposed on the privacy spectrum, with Facebook being the poster child of violations and Apple as the champion of protecting it. The latest bout of mudslinging between the two has Facebook presenting itself as the defender of small businesses that will be affected by iOS’ upcoming privacy feature while Apple seems to be taking the side of users whose privacy has become the currency of the Internet.
At the heart of the bickering between the two companies is the upcoming Identification for Advertisers or IDFA that has already been delayed to 2021 to give companies and advertisers time to prepare for D-Day. Under this new system, users will be presented with an option to opt into targeted advertising. Facebook put out a full-page ad lambasting the upcoming policy and taking up the cause of small businesses that will get hurt when giants, like Apple and itself, clash.
Apple has now responded, though with less bravado, and is standing up for the users that often do get crushed even by small businesses. It defends that the upcoming iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency won’t actually block Facebook and anyone else from tracking users to serve up personalized ads. It just gives users the choice not to be tracked if they don’t want to as well as the awareness needed to make
Facebook’s contention stems from how this new system blocks tracking by default instead of the current practice of having users go through settings to disable tracking. It presumes that most users will probably not enable tracking, depriving businesses big and small of targeted advertising revenue. In fact, Facebook is reportedly preparing yet another ad, this time focusing on how Apple will be threatening the free Internet this way.
Although businesses’ advertising revenue could take a hit from iOS 14’s IDFA, the real problem runs deeper than that. Ads have definitely become one of the worst things on the Internet and mobile and yet it is also the means by which some businesses are able to survive. Apple isn’t even alone in the push against user tracking for targeted ads, as browser makers have also started to flip the switch. Google, best known and most notorious for its ads businesses, seems to be curiously quiet on the matter.