Why Facebook Doesn’t Like Apple’s New Privacy Features

February 1, 2021 • Devin Partida

Facebook has pushed back against Apple’s latest plans for an iOS update, continuing a tense history between both big tech companies. On January 27, 2021, Apple announced an iOS 14 update that will give more liberty to its users when it comes to data and privacy.

This move is part of a push from consumers for more control over their own information. It comes at a time when big tech companies are under intense scrutiny, too.

When downloading and using an app, users will now get a pop-up that asks for the user’s permission before the app uses their personal data. After the update, if an Apple user downloads Facebook, they’ll receive a prompt to decide whether or not to allow Facebook to collect their information and track them. Additionally, users can change these preferences at any time in the Settings app.

Apple calls the iOS 14.5 changes App Tracking Transparency. As big tech companies continue to grow, Apple hopes the update will give power to individual users. However, Facebook has responded negatively to this news and may be planning an antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

The Facebook Feud

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has alluded to big tech needing some changes, and this update seems to be a step towards those changes. While not naming any companies, Cook has seemingly alluded to Facebook as being particularly in need of regulation.

In a data privacy speech in Brussels, Cook stated, “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, it does not deserve our praise. It deserves scorn.”

Cook’s words echo the years of controversies that Facebook has found itself in. From data breaches to mishandling user information, the social media company is no stranger to bad publicity. Now, though, Apple’s update will change the status quo.

The iOS 14.5 update would no doubt affect Facebook’s control and handling of user data. In response, the social media conglomerate, on top of a potential court case, has been going after Apple for some time now. The company launched a website that claims Apple’s update will hurt small businesses who need data and ad personalization to connect with consumers.

A report from The Information writes that representatives from Facebook claim Apple has “abused its power in the smartphone market by forcing app developers to abide by App Store rules that Apple’s own apps don’t have to follow.”

Motivation Behind the Changes

In the same Brussels speech, Cook also states, “At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good and the longer the better.”

iOS 14.5 will certainly bring about a new dynamic for companies of all kinds. Apple users will have more say than ever about what personal data companies have access to. Facebook, though, appears to be a specific target in this speech. Disinformation has been one of Facebook’s news-breaking scandals, especially through the 2020 presidential election.

Cook’s speech hints at the violence and attempted insurrection that came to Capitol Hill at the beginning of January. Though Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg stated that rioters “largely” organized these plans on other platforms, Facebook is nevertheless notorious for allowing misinformation and political strife.

Here, Apple’s motivations for the iOS update converge. While gaining trust from its consumers and giving them more control over their data, Apple also gets to take a shot at Facebook. Apple can get the upper hand over Facebook while encouraging the social media company to change its historically harmful data practices.

As of now, it’s still unclear whether or not Facebook will pursue a lawsuit. Regardless, the iOS 14.5 update continues the longstanding feud between the two companies as well as the conversation around consumer data.

A New Direction

With these changes from Apple, a new era could be here. If App Tracking Transparency goes well, other companies may hop on board and give consumers more awareness and control over their data.

According to Apple’s press release, the iOS 14 update will arrive in early spring.

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