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August 28, 2020
Facebook is up in arms over Apple’s plan to let users opt out of sharing their Web-usage data with the social network.
It warned in a blog post this week that the resulting curtailment of personalised ads by Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 operating system could lead to a 50 percent drop in publisher revenue on Facebook Audience Network. For the uninitiated: Audience Network lets software developers serve in-app advertisements to users based on their Facebook activity.
“Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14,” Facebook said.
In June, Apple revealed iOS 14 will notify users if an app wants to know their unique device code, called the IDFA (which stands for ID For Advertisers), and give them the choice to opt out of sharing it.
Until now, IDFA sharing has been switched on by default. This has enabled advertisers to join the dots between what a user is doing with their iPhone, enabling said advertiser to build a detailed profile of the user and serve better targeted ads. If customers are given the option, as iOS 14 will do, to opt out of IDFA sharing – which in this day and age is probably the more likely outcome – then that task of profiling users becomes much more difficult.
The move appeared to have caught Facebook off guard. “We believe that industry consultation is critical for changes to platform policies, as these updates have a far-reaching impact on the developer ecosystem,” Facebook said this week. What is completely absent is any acknowledgement of chickens coming home to roost.
Companies like Facebook and its ilk have earned billions by effectively treating individual privacy with contempt. In tandem with this, major corporations have shown time and time again their inability to prevent their customers’ personal data from being accessed illegally. In addition, phishing scams are just as prevalent as ever, and with more services going online, it pays to be paranoid about sharing data.
With all that in mind, it is hard to feel anything other than schadenfreude when a company like Facebook complains about users being given more control over who gets hold of their data.
Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.
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