Facebook has taken out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post attacking Apple’s upcoming privacy feature in iOS that will allow users to opt out of letting apps track their activity for advertising purposes, Bloomberg reports. The ads position Facebook, one of the largest companies on the planet that built its wealth through the monetization of user data, as standing up for the little guy with the headline: “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”
The very public salvo against Apple’s upcoming privacy features is just the latest development in an increasingly acrimonious battle between the two tech juggernauts whose business models are diametrically opposed. Apple makes its money through selling high-margin hardware and services and prides itself on offering users a rarity for a tech giant: increasing their privacy with every major software release. Facebook, on the other hand, has a business model that relies on collecting as much data about its users as possible in order to monetize that personal data to better target users with ads. In other words, every privacy boost Apple gives users becomes another existential threat to Facebook.
Of course, Facebook is aware that probably few people would feel sorry for the company having less access to their data, which is why it’s positioning its ads as standing up for small businesses. Bloomberg quotes the ad as saying, “While limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us, these changes will be devastating to small businesses,” with Facebook claiming that ads that aren’t based on personalized data that has been acquired about a user generate 60% fewer sales.
While the full-page ad is targeting a major privacy feature Apple will give users in the new year, Facebook’s ad also happens to come just two days after Apple released another privacy feature for users: privacy labels in the App Store. Those labels allow users to see just what personal information is harvested about them by an app’s developer if they choose to download and use an app. As CNBC notes, the new privacy label for the Facebook app doesn’t exactly inspire confidence:
“But perhaps the most memorable part of Facebook’s privacy label detail page is how long it is,” CNBC says. “[O]n the phone, it takes up several screens. It leaves a very strong impression that Facebook is collecting a massive hoard of data about its billions of users.”
— Dave Stangis (@DaveStangis) December 16, 2020