Facebook initiated a PR assault against Apple on Wednesday, asserting that the iPhone maker’s upcoming privacy changes to its mobile operating system will hurt small businesses’ ability to target advertising and app makers’ ability to offer free content.
During the WWDC event this year, Apple announced that with iOS 14, it will be giving the control of ads to its users (among other changes), allowing them to choose whether they want to see targeted ads or not. The move was undertaken to promulgate privacy on the company’s platforms, but has seen wide criticism from the likes of Facebook, which relies heavily on advertisements for its revenue.
Facebook said modifications by Apple will disproportionately harm small businesses that rely on personalized advertisements to reach customers, going as far as to set up a website dedicated to thrashing Apple. It also said its internal research has found that small businesses earned 60 percent less in sales when they were not able to use the kind of targeted advertising Apple aims to limit.
While feeling exposed by privacy disclosures, Facebook has joined other companies like Fortnite’s Epic Games and Spotify in opposition to App Store’s 30% fee on in-app purchases, calling it unfair. This was before a suit was brought against Facebook for practices that the government claims are anti-competitive.
While Facebook contends that it’s standing up for small businesses, its undeniable that it sees monetary benefit from continuing to collect individual user data without restraint. Apple’s privacy rules could be good for consumers, but a helpful side profit is that the company can decrease the outsized profits of other software giants like Facebook or Google. Neither company has an unsullied history in this argument.
Apple, which has been slammed for the 30% cut it takes from app developers, launched a program last month that lowers commission rates in half for businesses that generate under $1 million a year.
“Some companies that would prefer [app tracking transparency] is never implemented have said that this policy uniquely burdens small businesses by restricting advertising options, but in fact, the current data arms race primarily benefits big businesses with big data sets,” said Jane Horvath, senior director of global privacy at Apple.
The Coalition for App Fairness, a group of big developers join to criticize Apple includes tech giants like music streaming service Spotify, Fortnite maker Epic Games and online-dating conglomerate Match Group, and has reached 50 members. On Wednesday, the group revealed a new member had joined, Digital Content Next, an industry group for online publishers that includes The Washington Post.