Updated: Tim Cook responds to Facebook’s attack ads against Apple’s App Tracking Transparency

Facebook paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal that accuses Apple will reduce small business revenue by 60%.

Apple and Facebook are fighting again, and this time small businesses are caught in the middle. The ad Facebook ran on Wednesday accuses Apple of hurting small businesses with an iOS 14 App Store update that will tell consumers what data an app will collect.

We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere

At Facebook, small business is at the core of our business. More than 10 million businesses use our advertising tools each month to find new customers, hire employees and engage with their communities.

Many in the small business community have shared concerns about Apple’s forced software update, which will limit businesses’ ability to run personalized ads and reach their customers effectively.

Forty-four percent of small to medium businesses started or increased their usage of personalized ads on social media during the pandemic, according to a new Deloitte study. Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.

While limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us, these changes will be devastating to small businesses, adding to the many challenges they face right now.

Small businesses deserve to be heard. We hear your concerns, and we stand with you.

Join us at fb.com/SpeakUpForSmall

This information appears in the new App Tracking Transparency feature and requires users to opt-in before they download the app from the App Store. Noah Evans shared what Facebook’s App Privacy report looks like on Twitter. It’s alarmingly long.

Facebook uses the data it collects to provide targeted advertising to businesses of all sizes. If Facebook loses the ability to provide detailed data sets on its targeted audiences, it claims that small businesses could lose up to 60% of the revenue they currently gain from Facebook ads. 

Neither Facebook nor Apple is innocent

Other than this move rivaling the series of passive aggressive post-it notes from your roommate reminding you to wash your dishes, the argument from both sides feels strained. 

In addition to feeling threatened by privacy disclosures, Facebook has joined other companies like Fortnite’s Epic Games and Spotify in arguing that the App Store’s 30% fee on in-app purchases is unfair. This was prior to a suit brought against Facebook for practices that the government claims are anti-competitive.

Apple responded by cutting that fee in half for app developers that make under $1 million, but has refused to budge on fees for large companies like Facebook. Apple also made several recent efforts to increase consumer privacy and inform users of how much data they disclose, including releasing updates to Safari and rumors of a search engine to rival Google Search. The changes to the App Store feel like they’re in line with this greater focus on privacy.

Facebook stands to take the biggest hit from any privacy disclosure moves: The thousands of data points they collect on users drives the hyper-specific ad targeting on the app. This in turn helps small businesses grow their audiences on Facebook—through ads that earn the social network billions of dollars.  

While Facebook argues that it’s standing up for small businesses, it’s hard to ignore the monetary benefit they see from continuing to collect individual user data without restraint. Apple’s privacy rules may be good for consumers, but a helpful side benefit is that they might reduce the outsized profits of other software giants like Facebook or Google. Neither company has a pristine history in this argument.

Updates

Apple responds to Facebook

An Apple spokesperson responded to Facebook’s attack in a statement made to AppleInsider.

We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not.

App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.

Apple spokesperson to AppleInsider

Facebook runs a second ad attacking Apple

Apple vs. the free internet

Apple plans to roll out a forced software update that will change the internet as we know it – for the worse.

Take your favorite cooking sites or sports blogs. Most are free because they show advertisements.

Apple’s change will limit their ability to run personalized ads. To make ends meet, many will have to start charging you subscription fees to adding more in-app purchases, making the internet much more expensive and reducing high-quality free content.

Beyond hurting apps and websites, many in the small business community say this change will be devastating for them too, at a time when they face enormous challenges. They need to be able to effectively reach the people most interested in their products and services to grow.

Forty-four percent of small to medium businesses started or increased their usage of personalized ads on social media during the pandemic, according to a new Deloitte study. Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.

Small businesses deserve to be heard. We’re standing up to Apple for our small business customers and our communities.

Tim Cook responds to Facebook attacks

Tim Cook responded to Facebook’s attack on Apple’s App Tracking Transparency and privacy related updates.

We believe users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used. Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first.

Tim Cook via Twitter
Facebook iOS tracking message
iOS message allowing users to decline having the Facebook app track them

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Tamara Scott is a writer and content strategist based in Nashville. With a background in English education, she plans and writes clear, instructive content for marketers and technology users of all skill levels. Follow @t_scottie