Facebook And Apple Conflict Explained: It’s A No Holds Barred

Facebook and Apple are at each other’s throat again, but this time it’s different. In the latest Facebook and Apple conflict, both companies are bringing out the big guns and trying to smoke each other. Before you start thinking I’m exaggerating, let’s talk about the events of the past week.

In the last seven days, Facebook brought out two full-page newspaper ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times. The ads were titled “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere” and they showed Facebook’s protest over the new iOS 14 privacy policies.

Right after this, on 18 December, Tim Cook tweeted, “We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.” Tim’s tweet came with a picture of a dialogue box with options to “Ask app not to track” or “Allow” tracking.

Facebook And Apple Relations

Facebook Apple conflict: A screenshot of one of the Facebook ads in the New York Times
A screenshot of one of the Facebook ads in the New York Times

The big tech duo is known to have shared a tense relationship. It is so because Apple and Facebook have an almost inverted business model. In simpler terms, Apple charges a premium for its products and services because it offers you safety, transparency, and privacy. Facebook, on the other hand, collects data from you to show you ads and make money doing it.

In the last few months, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Apple’s App Store deserved scrutiny; Apple responded by bashing Facebook for being a creepy stalker. To understand the recent conflict, one must understand how Facebook is about to be hit by Apple’s latest actions.

While Facebook said that it is standing up for small businesses, it stands to lose more than anyone else. If you’re a small business using Facebook to sell your product, you can not reach all potential customers for free. So you, as a business, pay Facebook to be more visible. In return, Facebook, which also tracks its 2.45 billion users, shows your page to potential buyers.

Facebook Vs. Apple On Privacy

A screenshot of Ad tracking transparency on iOS
A screenshot of Ad tracking transparency on iOS

If you put it in simple terms, Facebook lets sellers find buyers. Can’t be that bad right? Wrong. Even if Facebook sees people as businesses and consumers, people need to consent to the use of their location, financial, and health data. What’s happening here is that Facebook is collecting all the data without your knowledge and hammering you into buying things you don’t even want.

However, things are about to change for iOS users as Apple will be rolling out an iOS 14.4 update. The latest update will bring app tracking transparency to iOS devices. It means Facebook will now have to ask you before tracking you, as shown in the screenshot above.

Apple Facebook Ad Tracking

Apple App Store Screenshots of data that Facebook collects
Apple App Store Screenshots of data that Facebook collects

While Facebook might want you to believe that Apple is hurting small businesses, the truth is slightly more complicated. Apple is merely giving you the freedom to choose whether you want any apps to track your usage or not. With the upcoming iOS 14 updates, Apple is introducing App tracking transparency.

It is this feature, this mandatory consent from users, that Facebook sees as a threat. In the above image, the screenshot from Apple App Store is the full list of your data that Facebook is using without permission. After the app transparency feature is out, Facebook will have to ask all iOS users before using this information to target ads.

The update was supposed to roll out with iOS 14 as Apple announced it at the WWDC. However, the company put it on hold so developers could find a way to comply with the mandatory consent. The feature has received appreciation from privacy groups as well.

Shooting Off The Small Businesses’ Shoulder

Be it Facebook, Epic, Google, Amazon, or Apple, the entire big tech is all about small businesses nowadays. For years, Facebook took money from small businesses and data from consumers. Google too became the unsaid middleman in the name of eliminating the middleman.

Simply put, if the world is a global village, Facebook is the barn-door sized speaker that will say anything for anyone that gives it money. And when you want to hold it accountable, it says it is you that the speaker is screaming for! With Apple making it compulsory for all companies to ask iOS users before tracking them, Facebook is crying foul.

The damage to small businesses, if any, is on Facebook as the company was never transparent about what data was collected and how it was used. While users can still allow Facebook and others to track them, the companies will have to be very convincing for the users to sign up for tracking when they can simply keep their privacy.

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