Whilst privacy experts have praised Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 updates, Facebook has commented that the new features could half its advertising revenue.
Facebook is highly critical of the upcoming Apple mobile operating system privacy update, which requires the application to ask users for permission, before collecting & sharing their data.
In the iOS 14 update, Apple iPhone & iPad users have an option to opt out of allowing apps to collect data using the Apple device identifier (IDFA). IDFA is a unique no. linked to a mobile device.
Facebook & other apps can sell data collected via IDFA to 3rd-party advertisers, who can then use that data to target their ads.
Apple referenced the feature at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, telling users that the move will make ad tracking ‘more transparent’ & give them greater control over their data.
This week, Facebook strongly criticised the feature, saying that it could lead to a more than 50% reduction in its Audience Network business, which is an in-app advertising network for mobile apps.
“Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14,” suggested Facebook in a Wed. post. “We expect less impact to our own advertising business, & we’re committed to supporting advertisers & publishers through these updates.”
The advertising business allows advertisers to target ads to customers using mobile sites & apps – other than Facebook.
Facebook alleged that as a result of this feature in iOS, the ability of advertising publishers to accurately target & measure their campaigns on Audience Network will reduce, directly affecting their ability to monetise via the Audience Network.
Facebook has had its share of privacy issues linked to data collection & advertising, & on Wed. it said it would not collect the IDFA on its own apps on iOS 14 devices.
However, it observed “we may revisit this decision as Apple offers more guidance.” It also commented that the company would remind users that they have a choice about how their information is used on Facebook.
Chris Hazelton, Director of Security Solutions at Lookout, observed that the privacy changes in iOS 14 are part of an “unstoppable trend” to increase the protection of user privacy. “Fighting this trend is like fight the ocean tides – you can’t,” he explained “You have to adapt to the trend & innovate or die.”
“Users are more in control of their personal information,” he outlined. “They can now decide on an app-by-app basis which will have access to personal data. Previously, iOS users only had the choice between sharing all their information when using apps or declining to share & not having access to apps.
Apple has produced tools for users to more easily pick & choose the developers with which they share personal information.”
Facebook has long had issues in reconciling advertising with users’ data privacy, beginning with the 2018 Cambridge Analytica privacy controversy. Also, the company has since suspended 10s of 1,000s of apps as an aspect of its investigation into how 3rd-party apps on its platform collect, handle & use users’ personal data.
However, the company has still had issues with privacy, & in 2019 said that 100 3rd-party app developers improperly accessed the names & profile pictures of members in a number of Facebook groups.
While iOS 14 is expected to later in 2020, Apple has not given out a precise launch date.