Facebook Is Gaslighting Users Into Allowing Ad Tracking on iOS 14

By Anupam Chugh

Anupam Chugh
Facebook iOS 14 anti-ad tracking Apple personalized ads
Facebook iOS 14 anti-ad tracking Apple personalized ads
Source: Google

The fact that Facebook and Apple have been at loggerheads for a decade is no mystery. A lot of this has to do with their business philosophies which are not in harmony with one another.

Apple, the pioneer of innovation believes privacy is the fundamental right of every human. Understandably, their products are pricey but largely guarantee your data security.

Facebook on the other hand believes in free services. But we all know, “when you’re not paying, you’re the product”. The social network king has primarily relied on harvesting user data and retargeting through advertising campaigns in order to drive their source of revenue.

Lately, Apple has been doubling down on data privacy by giving user’s a lot more transparency and better control over who uses their data.

After a slew of enhancements in the form of limited ad-tracking(which was deeply buried under the settings), privacy-focused Bluetooth and location permissions with iOS 13, the Cupertino tech giant took things a notch further in iOS 14 by introducing approximate location access, App Store privacy reports, and blocking third-party cookies in Safari.

But from the perspective of advertisement agencies, the newly announced App Tracking Transparency framework became a major talking point and led to more woes for Facebook.

If the ability to not track precise location wasn’t a bane for location-based advertisers, an opt-in ad-tracking dialog certainly became the cause of concern for digital advertisers.

For those who don’t know, every app on the App Store that monetizes ads typically uses Facebook or Google’s Ad SDK. Either of the SDKs leverages Apple’s Advertising Identifier(IDFA), a unique device string to identify a user. In doing so, advertising agencies can track individuals across apps, new installations via deep links, and subsequently earn revenue by retargeted ad campaigns.

With the advent of iOS 14, Apple announced a new privacy-focused ad framework, SKAdNetwork. Unlike previously, apps would now be required to show the App Tracking Transparency(ATT) system prompt thereby giving users the final choice whether to “Allow” or “Ask App Not to Track”. This one dialog sent tremors in the whole mobile advertisement industry as IDFA was rendered useless. If a user selects “Ask App Not to Track”, the SKAdNetwork would only send generic user information to the advertiser.

It won’t be an overstatement to say that most users would deny the permission considering it’s a privacy nightmare. Unsurprisingly, this led to an outcry by Facebook and Apple decided to postpone the feature until 2021 in order to give digital marketers and developers more time.

Now that the iOS 14 ATT prompt has begun rolling out, Facebook is trying to alter the narrative of the entire campaign once again. They’ve rolled out full-page newspaper ads depicting Apple as the Darth Vader of small businesses and criticizing them for killing the free internet.

Ironically, Facebook is a company that never stood by small businesses and is known for its “copy, buy or kill” strategy. To add more fuel to the fire, Facebook is also the firm that only recently tried to force WhatsApp users to either “send their data or lose the account” in the name of the privacy policy(though this backfired and they had to retreat).

Their whole anti-Apple marketing campaign was laughable, reeked desperation, and only showed how worried they are about the iOS 14 privacy features.