- Facebook and Apple are fighting over the App Tracking Transparency software update from the iPhone manufacturer.
- Apple believes privacy is a “fundamental human right” and advocates protecting users.
- The deal to make Google the default search engine for Safari goes against its ideals.
- You can find more stories in the Insider business section.
If you’re paying any attention to the tech industry, it’s hard to overlook Battle between Facebook and Apple above that The upcoming software update from the iPhone manufacturer. Known as app tracking transparency, the update requires app developers to request permission before they can track users.
Facebook is clearly not a fan of this move, mainly because of the very real impact it could have on his advertising businessThis is based solely on tracking and then monetizing your personal information.
Last week when Facebook reported its quarterly results, Mark Zuckerberg shot Apple. “We are increasingly seeing Apple as one of our biggest competitors,” he said. “Apple has every incentive to use its dominant platform position to affect the way our apps and other apps work, which they do on a regular basis. They say they do this to help people, but the steps are clearly in their competitive interests.”
The very next day Tim Cook gave a speech According to the European Conference on Computers, Privacy and Data Protection, “Technology doesn’t need large amounts of personal data, pieced together across dozens of websites and apps, to be successful.” While Cook didn’t mention Facebook by name, it was clear where his comments were directed.
“If a company is based on misleading users, on data usage, and on decisions that are not choices at all, it doesn’t deserve our praise,” said Cook. “It deserves reform.”
I agree. There’s only one problem.
There’s actually a far greater threat to your privacy on iPhone, and it’s one that Apple built right in.
Apple has had one for years Contact Google to make the search engine the default option in Safari. In return, Google pays Apple between $ 10 billion and $ 15 billion a year – at least that’s loud Justice Department sued the search giant in October.
It’s hard to reconcile Apple’s criticism of Facebook with the fact that it makes so much money off of Google. Let’s say the actual number is somewhere in the middle – $ 12.5 billion. That would almost be one Fifth of all Apple earnings for a full year. In a way, it’s even more substantial because that money is just profit. Apple literally has no cost in making Google the standard.
Apple also benefits from Facebook. Facebook’s Audience Network is most vulnerable to the upcoming change in iOS – the advertising service commonly used for app installation ads. This means that an app may be showing an ad for a game or other apps. Facebook uses tracking to measure the mapping so developers know that a particular ad resulted in a conversion.
When a user clicks on an ad and downloads an app, it comes from the Apple App Store. As a result, Apple financially benefits from Audience Network as it encourages users to download more apps. If these apps charge a fee or offer a subscription, Apple charges one 15 or 30% commission.
Apple’s own ad network does not track you over the Internet, but it does not have the same restrictions on tracking for the purpose of association. Nor does it need to ask permission to keep track of the mapping the way other developers do. The setting to turn off “personalized ads” in the App Store and Apple News (the two places Apple delivers ads) is buried in a separate settings area.
To be fair, Apple certainly does more than most to protect the privacy of its users.
It Doesn’t track users across different apps or websites. A random identifier is used in advertising that is not assigned to you or your Apple ID.
In fact, Apple only collects the minimum amount of data necessary to complete a task, and in most cases processes those tasks on the device, so your data is not sent to Apple’s servers. For example, if you use Apple’s Weather app it will only use your approximate location as this is all that is required to make a forecast and this information is not stored in a profile. Unlike Google, the Apple version of Maps doesn’t save your location history.
Safari also blocks third-party cookies and device fingerprints by default. However, this isn’t really relevant with Google. No third-party trackers are required to know what you’re doing on your own website, especially considering that most people are signed into Google anyway, so it already knows exactly who you are.
While Apple’s outspoken commitment to privacy is certainly admirable, you cannot have the moral ground while benefiting financially from the business model you claim is taking the low tier.
It is not enough to build your own services in such a way that the privacy of your users is protected.
You need to implement this model in your business relationships. Otherwise, you’re just trading on a marketing point that you don’t really believe in.
The problem for Apple is that it doesn’t just claim privacy as a marketing point. It claims it is a core value and believes privacy is a “basic human right”. If you really believe this, then you cannot route the traffic to a service that is literally tracking two thirds of everything that happens on the internet. There’s no financial benefit that can fix that, at least not if you really believe what you’re saying.
In a way, you could argue that Apple’s conflict of interest over privacy is worse than Facebook or Google.
Facebook really would rather that you not think about how much it is tracking what you do online, but it is at least upfront a belief that personalized advertising benefits consumers as it allows the company to offer its service to users for free shape.
We can’t agree on whether this tradeoff is worth it, but Facebook doesn’t pretend that it values your privacy above its own gain. It’s pretty transparent where it’s at.
The same is especially true for Google, although I would argue that the search giant actually did a relatively good job of making it easier for users to control what data it can use and allowing users to see the information stored about them to delete.
For example, last year, Google introduced features in the Google Assistant that allow you to delete all of your activity from that day, week, or period of time, just by asking for it. You can also control your privacy settings and have your personal data deleted automatically. Indeed by default, Google will now delete your data after 18 monthsHowever, you can set this to three months if you prefer.
Merely from a business point of view, the advantages that Apple receives from both Facebook’s app installation ads and the standard search placement agreement with Google make perfect sense. It only seems fair that Apple should do the same if the company is to urge everyone else to be transparent about their position on monetizing user data.