Once again, something new that has to do with privacy is causing a stir at Silicon Valley, but this time, Facebook is the one getting furious. The object that is causing anger at Facebook is the new privacy feature Apple (AAPL) is set to launch in the next version of iOS 14.
The feature, called App Tracking Transparency is such a flashpoint between the two Silicon Valley giants that Facebook is considering filing an antitrust suit against Apple over the matter, according to a news report on Yahoo Finance, referencing The Information.
What is it about the App Tracking Transparency that has caused the drums of legal warfare to be beaten at Facebook Headquarters?
Starting from Basics; how does advertisers target adverts at you, if you are using an Apple device? They are able to do this because your iOS and iPadOS devices have what’s called an Identification for Advertisers software tracker, or IDFA. An IDFA is Apple’s randomized identifier that allows advertisers to track your activity across apps and the web without pulling in your personal information.
Currently, app tracking is turned on by default, and users can only disable it via the iOS and iPadOS settings menus, hence companies have the ability to track certain user activities via its Safari browser. That is why if you are looking at a lot of children-related websites, IDFA can help advertisers send you ads related to children cloths or toys for instance.
This is where the App Tracking Transparency comes in. When made available with the next version of iOS 14, it will provide users with a pop up when they launch an app that wants to track their activities. It will also keep the IDFA turned off by default, and will only let you be tracked if you tell the app to.
Why is something like the App Tracking Transparency on your Apple device implemented by the device manufacturer be a problem for Facebook? It boils down the engine powering Facebook’s revenue; advertising.
If people choose not to be tracked, the effectiveness of targeted ads will plummet, according to Facebook.
- If companies can’t target ads, they may not buy ads, this could push Facebook’s revenue down by 50%
- If app developers who offer their apps or free can no longer earn revenue with ad sales, and may result to selling their apps
Should app developers that can no longer rely on targeted ads for revenue start selling their apps on Apple’s App store, Apple will charge them 30% fee for each app purchase. Given that the only way to get apps on iPhones or iPads, Apple looks set to benefit.
That perceived advantage the introduction of App Tracking Transparency bestows on Apple Inc. is the object of Facebook’s antitrust lawsuit. According to reports, Facebook is considering filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, claiming that Apple is only making the move to fill its own coffers.
Facebook is already supporting Epic Game’s own antitrust suit against Apple Inc.; the iPhone maker.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur