In a bizarre move, Facebook has taken out full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers to accuse Apple of hurting small businesses. You know, like Facebook.
“We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” the Facebook ad claims. “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.” The ads appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
I’ll spare you the rest. To be clear, advertising—and the resultant tracking of people online—is what is core to Facebook’s business. And the reason Facebook is lashing out at Apple is because the consumer electronics giant belatedly enabled, in iOS 14.3, a promised platform feature that randomizes device identifiers on Apple’s devices, making it impossible for apps to silently track them as they can on the web.
Facebook’s self-serving argument is that the use of personalized ads on social media by small and medium businesses has exploded during the pandemic and that Apple’s changes will lead to a 60 percent reduction in sales for the average small business advertiser. Presumably, Facebook’s cut will be similar, though the ad curiously omits that data point.
“These changes will be devastating to small businesses,” the Facebook ad argues, “adding to the many challenges they face right now.”
Facebook previously warned investors that the coming change to iOS—originally schedule for iOS 14 in September—“could have a meaningful negative effect.” I previously cited Apple’s privacy improvements in iOS 14, including prompting users when an app tries to track them, as key benefits to this product.