What just happened? When big tech companies attack each other publicly, they make a lot of noise about it. Just look at Facebook, which has lambasted Apple, again, in a series of full-page newspaper ads, claiming the privacy changes in iOS 14 will damage small businesses that rely on targeted advertising.
The privacy feature set to appear in iOS and iPadOS 14 has already caused concern among Facebook- and Google-backed firms whose ads track users across apps and websites to create detailed profiles and targeted ads. Essentially, the feature requires developers to detail how their apps collect and use data while also requesting users' permission.
The data transparency feature was supposed to be implemented in September's release of iOS 14, but Apple decided to delay its arrival until early next year so developers have more time to prepare—likely prompted by the outcry from companies such as Facebook. The postponement resulted in a letter addressed to Tim Cook from a coalition of civil and human rights organizations expressing their disappointment.
The delay didn’t appease the social network, which is running full-page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal calling the changes “devastating for small businesses” that rely on personalized ads for sales. Facebook’s message includes an address for its "speak up for small business" site, where business owners can vent against the iOS changes.
The Verge notes that Apple’s new App Store Privacy labels arrived this week, highlighting how iOS apps use people’s data. Facebook’s entry is so long it reaches across several pages.
Apple exposing all the ways Facebook tracks you with it iOS app is really quite something pic.twitter.com/hDhB85qk1L— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) December 16, 2020
Apple’s senior developer of global privacy, Jane Horvath, said the upcoming anti-tracking feature isn’t designed to prevent advertising, but is way of encouraging advertising that respects user privacy on the same level as Apple.
Facebook is unlikely to find a lot of sympathy from everyday users who don’t want their browsing habits tracked across the internet. It’s also strange to see the company apparently stand up for the little guy so soon after the FTC and attorneys general from 48 states and territories filed two separate lawsuits against it for alleged anti-competitive conduct.