Apple Fires Back at Facebook

Posted on December 17, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Social with 24 Comments

In the wake of Facebook’s escalating public complaints about Apple, the consumer electronics giant has fired back at the baseless claims.

“We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users,” an Apple statement reads. “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.”

It’s hard to argue with that. But the most damning statement from Apple reveals the true hypocrisy of Facebook’s complaint. Apple isn’t actually preventing Facebook from tracking users. Instead, it’s implementing a pop-up in iOS 14 that lets users choose whether Facebook can track them.

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

Obviously, I don’t always agree with Apple, and I find many of its public statements and presentations to be hyperbolic and self-serving. But in this case, Apple is both correct and right: Giving users the ability to opt-out of privacy-invasive tracking is in everyone’s best interests. You know, except Facebook’s.

On a related and perhaps not surprising note, Facebook has followed-up its full-page newspaper ads with a new set (seen above) that claim that Apple is preventing it from displaying personalized ads, a move that will “change the Internet as we know it—for the worse.” The less said about that the better.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Apple Fires Back at Facebook”

  1. wright_is

    I agree with you 100%. I'm not a big Apple fan, but when it comes to this sort of privacy and making sure the user opts-in to these sort of things, that is the correct thing to do and Facepalm can just lump it.

    Facebook and all its 2,500+ domains are blocked at the DNS level on my network, because I don't get the choice to opt-in or even opt-out with their data tracking.

  2. anoldamigauser

    In reply to proftheory:

    I will stand with lie, since it is knowingly misrepresenting the truth.

    Sort of like "alternative facts" is really stuff we just made up.

  3. jimchamplin

    In reply to proftheory:

    In both cases, it does seem apt.

  4. nbplopes

    I personally don’t use Ad blockers. I simply don’t go to sites that over use them. For instance, Thurrot strikes a good balance. I personally believe that Ad blockers should be banned! I think users that use them are a but like thief’s. Any site should block users from using them.

    Now user tracking, aka bugging users browsers and devices without their consent, should be illegal too!

    Any site or app should be able to show Ads without tracking them!

    I believe that this would strike a fair balance. Ads non optional (unless the site decides to provide that option), user tracking optional.

    • jim_vernon

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I run ad blockers because it's my browser and it'll load whatever I want it to and not anything that I don't want it to. I disable the ad blocker on sites that I care to support (like this one, for example).

    • Oreo

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Sure, but in the end, that isn’t happening and won’t ever change voluntarily. I run adblockers precisely because of that: it is a way to force change in the industry.

  5. vladimir

    The bold face of facebook in this matter is really astonishing. I don't get who they are targeting with this campaign. Is there a single human being that sides with them? It would sound like: "Facebook is right, I should not be asked if I'm ok with my data being used for ads"

  6. cliffordsf

    I recently turned off my ad blocker because of the number of sites that won't let me at their content otherwise. I get it. I came late to the ad blocking party because I respect the needs of companies to pay the bills. I was really just after the annoying popups and in the old-school newspaper and magazine ads are fine, but the disruptive, annoying way many companies have implemented these ads is in danger of ruining the internet. I assume these pop-ups and videos are more effective? I click them off immediately, before I even know what they're hawking, which I suspect is the norm. An "old-school" ad is much more likely to get my attention once I've digested what I came to the site for in the first place.

    • Scsekaran

      In reply to CliffordSF:

      Ads and tracking should be separated. Simply ads on a website without tracking, the user can block the ads if they want to. If the quality of the content very good either they can become paid subscriber or accept the ads

      The major issue is tracking without consent and siphoning data from appstore.

    • Saarek

      In reply to CliffordSF:

      I find that ads ruin sites, so I block them by default.

      I also find myself in a bit of a frustrating position when it comes to certain sites that I enjoy visiting, such as this one incidentally, as I don't want the content creators to work for free so I let ads through for this site and sites like it.

      What I don't get is why sites that'd get pennies, at most, from the ad revenue for me want me to spend a not inconsiderable amount a month/year for a membership, far above the revenue they'd get from me for ads.

      I wish certain sites would charge a nominal amount of a £1 a month, or something low like that, for access. I'm pretty sure that they'd get a good take up on that amount and would more than offset the lost ad revenue and overall they'd have a much happier user base.

  7. jdawgnoonan

    Facebook is giving Apple the best advertising I could imagine for free right now. I mean, regardless of feelings towards Apple, who likes or trusts Facebook? I am sure a few, but not many. I only wish that Microsoft and Google would follow Apple on this. I could see Microsoft doing something similar, but am doubtful that Google would.

    • richfrantz

      In reply to jdawgnoonan:

      Judging by how many people seem to get their "news" from Facebook, I suspect more people trust Facebook than you think.

    • dashrender

      In reply to jdawgnoonan:

      Google is exactly like Facebook in this regard - an advertising company. But Google, unlike Facebook has it's own hardware platform that they can/do advertise on, so they don't have to worry as much about it as Facebook does.

      I'm guessing this iOS change will affect Google's search app the same way it affects Facebook's ability to track, so they'll be injured a bit by this, but meh... users rights should be supreme!

    • jchampeau

      In reply to jdawgnoonan:

      Agreed. Hopefully those who think of Facebook and Google are technology companies like Apple and Microsoft will begin to realize that they are advertising companies, and that we are the products they sell.

  8. KingPCGeek

    "Baseless" most overused word since November 3rd.

  9. codymesh

    Facebook believes in the reach of online targeted ads so much that they took out a full-page ad in a newspaper.

  10. jm2016

    I agree completely. This is the right thing. The big problem with the free add supported model online is that the user has no way to judge the value of the transaction. Gmail is free in return you give google information. There is no way for a user to know the relative value of the information, so no way to know if the transaction is fair. Facebook is even worse in the way it takes and uses this information.

    Maybe now, by being able to withhold the information, users will begin to get an idea of the true value of what they've been giving away.

  11. mikegalos

    Odd how Google hasn't come up in this seeing that it's about user tracking and privacy.

  12. Oreo

    In reply to lvthunder:

    Precisely. Google is smart enough to know that their best course of action is to keep their mouthes shut. Facebook is seemingly so out of touch that they really believe they can curry favor with full-page offline paper ads.