Facebook warns Apple app tracking policy could cost users

Ewdison Then - May 2, 2021, 8:34pm CDT
Facebook warns Apple app tracking policy could cost users

Although there were many developers, publishers, and advertisers that raised disgruntled voices when Apple announced its new App Tracking Transparency policy for iOS, Facebook was the one that shouted the loudest. It used rhetoric and other strategies to besmirch Apple’s privacy efforts, even going as far as ironically saying it will actually benefit the social networking giant in the long run. Now it’s taking those efforts to a new level by warning users that Facebook and Instagram might become paid services if iOS users don’t enable app tracking.

Apple made it clear numerous times that it isn’t against advertising per se, only that it wants users to be in complete control of it. Apps can even eschew using Apple’s ID For Advertisers (IDFA) which causes that first-run permission to pop up but they can’t use it to track users across other apps and similar actions. Facebook’s main beef is that most users will probably default to “No” and cause advertisers and advertising platforms to lose a lot of money.

Users might not care much about advertisers, even if they no longer get personalized targeted ads, but Facebook is now pretty much making them care. The Verge spotted notices on Facebook’s and Instagram’s iOS apps, calling attention to how the company uses app tracking information not just for ads but also to support businesses that rely on ads. Those aren’t new to people’s ears by now but what’s new is a scare tactic that Facebook is using to make users turn that on.

Both apps say outright that this user-tracking business keeps Facebook and Instagram free of charge. That suggests that should this situation on iOS persist, it might be forced to make those apps or services not-free, which could mean a paid subscription system.

Facebook is probably confident that its hold on users is so strong that even iPhone owners will feel disrupted by any change in the social network’s free services. That said, the company has already been considering having an ad-free subscription option for Facebook so this might not exactly be news, just that it will now try to use its own monopoly to probably force Apple to backtrack on its new policy.


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