New privacy settings in iOS 14 enable users to opt-out of monitoring.(keeping Facebook/Instagram free of charge)
Facebook is continuing its campaign against Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates for keeping Facebook/Instagram free of charge, adding a notice within its iOS app telling users the information it collects from other apps and websites can “help keep Facebook free of charge.” A similar message was seen on Instagram’s iOS app (Facebook is Instagram’s parent company).
The new pop-up notifications were first noticed by technology researcher Ashkan Soltani on Saturday (see his tweet below), but a Facebook spokesperson directed The Verge to a blog post from earlier last week that detailed the change. According to a blog post by Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president for ads and business items, the alerts are referred to as “educational screens,” and they include “more information on how we use data for targeted ads.”
To improve your advertising, we need to ask for permission to monitor some data from this system in this version of iOS. If you don’t switch on this system setting, learn how we restrict the use of this information,” the screen says. “We use information about your behavior from other apps and websites to show you more targeted advertising, support companies who rely on ads to reach their customers, and help keep facebook/Instagram free.”
The new opt-in specifications in iOS 14, including iOS 14.5, enable developers to obtain explicit permission from device owners to share and collect their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) through applications. Even if a user opts out of letting the app monitor them, app developers can still use other information they have for targeted ads under Apple’s new policy, but that information can’t be shared with another company for ad tracking.
If developers attempt to circumvent the opt-in provision by replacing the IDFA with another piece of identifying information, such as an email address, the software would be deemed non-compliant. The laws extend to Apple’s applications as well.
Facebook has been a vocal opponent of Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates, claiming that the changes would harm small businesses that rely on Facebook’s ad network to reach consumers. Facebook has said in press releases and newspaper advertisements that Apple is promoting new business models for apps that rely less on the advertisement and more on subscriptions, which might give Apple a cut.
However, the strategy of “keeping Facebook/Instagram FREE open” seems to contradict Facebook’s long-standing tagline, which stated that the company was “Facebook/Instagram free and always will be.” Of course, Facebook quietly removed the slogan from its homepage in 2019, and when CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in 2018, he didn’t rule out a paid version of Facebook. “There will always be a Facebook/Instagram free edition,” he said.
During Facebook’s January earnings call, Zuckerberg singled out Apple as one of the company’s biggest competitors. “Apple has every reason to use their dominant platform role to interfere with how our apps and other apps function, which they do all the time to favor their own,” Zuckerberg said. “This has ramifications for millions of companies around the world, including the forthcoming iOS 14 changes.”