Facebook is still warning businesses of Apple’s incoming app tracking privacy changes in iOS 14

Facebook, one of the world’s largest social networks, is not happy about an impending new addition to iOS 14. That incoming privacy feature has the company up-in-arms, and it continues to warn other companies of the perceived pitfalls.

As first reported by iMore today, Facebook is still warning other businesses out there that Apple has big changes in the works as far as app tracking is concerned. The social network has informed business users that it has no choice but to comply with Apple’s latest change, because, if it doesn’t, Apple could remove the app from the App Store. The emails to the business users reiterate the company’s stance, saying it does not agree with Apple’s app tracking privacy feature.

From the email:

Apple’s requirement that all apps in the App Store show a prompt to iOS 14 users in accordance with their AppTrackingTransparency framework will have hard-hitting implications across targeting, optimization, and measuring campaign effectiveness for businesses that advertise on mobile devices and across the web. Apple’s changes will benefit them, while hurting the industry and the ability for businesses of all sizes to market themselves efficiently and grow through personalized advertising. We believe that personalized ads and user privacy can coexist.

Facebook’s emails to business users tell them that if users do opt-out of tracking, it may result in a “potentially reduced ad effectiveness and limitations on measurement”. However, while it’s warning of that potential future, it also states that it will be offering more guidance for business users in the near future. The company says it will try to work out ways for those users to prepare for the incoming changes. Those include online webinars that will begin this week.

A quick refresher

In brief, here’s what brought us to this point:

iOS is popular, and one of the reasons it is is because of the privacy and user security that Apple trumpets. However, some companies, like Facebook, think Apple is taking things a bit too far with its latest addition to the mobile OS. Back in September, before Apple confirmed the delay for this feature, it was rumored that the company was waiting to launch it because it was kowtowing to Facebook and other publisher’s demands.

Some publishers said they would lose a significant amount of revenue if Apple’s new feature arrived and they didn’t have time to make any adjustments. That includes Facebook, which, even with the delay, continues to beat the drum that Apple is “harming small businesses” with its latest privacy push.

Now, since then, Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath said that the delay had nothing to do with any demands, but rather to give publishers and developers more time to adjust to the new feature. As Horvath said earlier this year:

We delayed the release of ATT to early next year to give developers the time they indicated they needed to properly update their systems and data practices, but we remain fully committed to ATT and to our expansive approach to privacy protections. We developed ATT for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and data brokers.

That wasn’t enough, though. On December 16, Facebook slammed Apple’s anti-tracking feature with full-page advertisements in newspapers in the United States. Facebook said it is “standing up for small businesses everywhere”. And then the social network went on to publish other ads, saying Apple is against the “free internet”, and wants to go as far as to stop the internet from being free altogether.

Tim Cook does not agree with Facebook

Apple’s CEO is not afraid to defend the company’s practice of user privacy and security. And, as such, he’s not shy about calling out Facebook when the time calls for it. As such, Cook actually tweeted out in December, following Facebook’s public outcry, that users should have the ability of choice when it comes to what data they share.

Here’s that tweet, which includes the prompt Facebook will use when the app tracking privacy feature goes live:

We’ve already seen that WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is requiring users to accept a lot of data sharing with Facebook with its new privacy policy.

As far as when this feature will go live, it looks like it will be alongside the public launch of iOS 14.4.