The battle between Facebook and Apple is heating up yet again. It centers around Apple’s new iOS 14 feature that will alert users that an app wants to track them. Facebook sent an email to businesses, informing them it has no other choice but to comply with the iOS 14 feature.
Facebook’s Email to Businesses
First, we need to go back a month. Facebook took out newspaper ads complaining about Apple’s actions. The social network said it would be okay — it was just worried about the small businesses that would be affected.
What iOS 14 will soon start doing is displaying a pop-up in apps, asking users if they want to allow the app to track their activity.
Facebook said in the recent emails that the iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency feature will have “hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness.”
The social media company said in the email that it believes there’s a way “personalized ads and user privacy can coexist.” Ironically, Apple has said the same. It seems the issue is that Apple wants users to decide how they will coexist, while Facebook believes app developers should.
The email said the iOS 14 changes would have “hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness for businesses that advertise on mobile devices and across the Web.”
It added that the changes would benefit Apple “while hurting the industry and the ability for businesses of all sizes to market themselves efficiently and grow through personalized advertising.”
However, Facebook told businesses in the email that it has “no choice” but to add the iOS 14 tracking pop-up. If it doesn’t, Facebook believes Apple could block the Facebook app and its other apps from the App Store.
Facebook’s fear is that if users opt out of the tracking, which surely many will, it could lead to a reduction in “ad effectiveness and limitations on measurements.”
Other Tracking Techniques
Of course, tracking users is so integral to the business model for apps that other companies have admitted they are already planning other ways to track users. If they are, it would be shocking if Facebook decided it was not going to do the same.
Some app developers have said they plan to use invasive tracking techniques instead. For example, they will use “device fingerprinting.” However, if they do this, they risk Apple tossing them from the App Store.
“One hundred percent, everyone will try doing fingerprints, whether Apple enforces their rules or not,” said a mobile games developer.
“There is still going to be tracking,” said the director of consumer privacy engineering, Andrés Arrieta, at Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We will see apps trying to do nefarious things. No matter what you do, you will have those bad actors.”
The App Tracking Transparency feature will arrive in iOS 14 at some point this year. Initially, Apple had planned to launch it with the release of the app version in September. However, it delayed the release to give developers more time to prepare.
Of course, this type of thing happens on Android devices as well. Read on to learn how to stop apps from using mobile data on Android.