Eric Risberg / AP
A bitter battle is being waged between tech giants rivals Facebook and Apple.
The settlement is about millions of iPhone data, and highlights an important battle over the future of how iPhone habits are tracked by third parties.
Facebook on Wednesday further escalated the PR attack on Apple by revealing a video made by Grace Jones aimed at currying the public’s favor in the war with Apple.
Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to take thin hidden shots on Facebook, tweeting last month about the need for greater control over privacy “from protecting health and financial data to protecting against algorithms that maintain gross misinformation. We need transparency and reform . ”
What’s about to happen?
Apple says that in the coming weeks, the company will update its iOS software for iPhones that require apps to get explicit consent to track what people do on their phones to share it with third parties.
This type of tracking – which includes which apps are used and for how long, which websites are visited, data about the user’s location – are tapped by advertisers to create hyper-targeted, personalized ads.
According to Apple, the average app has at least six trackers that discreetly harvest user data.
Some apps, like Facebook, allow some data tracking to be disabled manually, but by default it is turned on, providing a wealth of personal data about who we are and what we do to be vacuumed, packaged and sold to make money.
Starting a little early this spring, Apple will require apps to send a push notification where people can either choose to “ask the app not to track” or “allow”.
With that, Apple will launch its latest salvo against Facebook, which has responded to the privacy update.
We believe that users should have the choice over the data collected about them and how they are used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will only require them to ask for your permission first. pic.twitter.com/UnnAONZ61I
– Tim Cook (@tim_cook) December 17, 2020
Why is Facebook opposing Apple’s update?
While Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has said the action is about giving people more control over the data collection practices he sees as intrusive, Facebook officials claim that Apple is acting out of self-interest.
Facebook says Apple is trying to pressure free apps, which often engage in extensive data tracking to feed advertisers, to move to subscription models. Apple is collecting through the App Store a 30% cut in in-app purchases, a controversial commission critic calls the “Apple fee.”
In an interview with NPR, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy Steve Satterfield said that Apple’s forthcoming announcement is an attempt to submit to the business model used by Facebook and other ad-supported free apps.
“This discouragement, this is going to have a real impact on the Internet as we know it, which will increasingly turn into a paid experience, which in turn benefits Apple’s bottom line,” Satterfield said.
Facebook has also launched a website and taken out full-page ads in newspapers, in addition to the recent TV and radio ad push, to shed light on how many small business owners are dependent on targeted ads.
Som Monique Wilsondebriano. She owns the company Charleston Gourmet Burger in South Carolina.
When her business started, she could not afford TV or radio ads, but she was able to drum up interest on Facebook.
“Ninety percent of our customers find us because of Facebook, because of the personal ads, so if something should disturb it, it will be a problem,” she told NPR.
This perspective was so important to Facebook that officials invited Wilsondebriano and other small business owners to speak in a recent press release from the company.
Nevertheless, privacy advocates and other prominent Facebook critics have questioned whether the change will really affect small businesses as much as profits on Facebook, which generate around 98% of advertising revenue.
A recent study by the TapResearch group found that 55 percent of respondents asked that they would not let Facebook track them across apps if asked.
Some analysts predict that Apple’s update could lead to a 7% hit on Facebook’s bottom line.
Why is the Zuckerberg-Cook feud trading?
In comments made at the end of January at a technology and privacy conference in Brussels, Apple Cook emphasized the company’s emphasis on privacy.
“It seems like no information is too private or personal to be monitored, monetized and gathered in a 360-degree view of your life,” Cook said.
Cook never mentioned Facebook by name, but when he discussed a technology company’s business model, his goal was clear.
“In a moment of violent disinformation and conspiracy theories used by algorithms, we can no longer blind our eyes to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement,” Cook said, speaking only a few weeks after the January 6 siege. the capital.
The Zuckerberg-Cook feud has been a long-running clash with personalities.
In 2018, Zuckerberg condemned Cook’s comments criticizing Facebook for making users of the product “extremely slippery” and “not at all in line with the truth.”
According to Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg then said privately to his team about Cook’s jabs against Facebook: “We need to inflict pain.”
Facebook and Apple: Opposite ways to make money, set up the clash
Both giants in Silicon Valley, the companies’ ways of making money and views on the Internet are in direct conflict.
Zuckerberg has long said that the only way to build a social network that connects billions of people is that the platform is free to use and supported by advertising. It is often said that when a technology service is “free”, users pay a lot with their data. And that’s the case with Facebook, which gathers its own portrait of its users through detailed behavioral tracking, and which also has a lucrative business selling data to third parties, such as data brokers and advertisers.
Cook, meanwhile, is mostly in the hardware industry. Apple makes most of its money by selling iPhones, iPads and laptops. While Apple has apps that produce a good deal of data recovery, Apple claims that they do not sell this data to third parties. Apple’s upcoming software update that has provoked Facebook is a piece with its image as a privacy.
It’s not lost on Cook that the message has proven to be particularly resonant at a time when federal agencies and lawmakers are moving to curb the power of Big Tech, while other Silicon Valley critics are gaining support from both sides to rally against excessive industry.
“We have an application like Facebook that is really driven by collecting data, and leveraging the value of that data,” said Jordan Fischer, a law professor at Drexel University who follows privacy issues. “And then we have Apple, which is almost becoming this gatekeeper feature for applications, and we’re going to impose a certain minimum level of privacy, and they collide because they do not have to work in the same world.”
Analyst Dan Ives said that this Facebook-Apple line sets the stage for a bigger battle over how technology companies will balance privacy with data collection in the digital economy.
“I think Facebook is worried, ‘this is just a first step for Apple,'” what could happen in the next one to two years if they further put the emphasis on privacy and advertising? “Apple knows in this regulatory environment that it will not come down to their side not to be flexible in terms of privacy.”