Facebook gives users a new message to consider before seeing Apple's privacy prompt
Facebook has a new notice for users to promote the benefits of its data-collection strategy, like personalized ads, which it would like consumers to consider before they click through to Apple’s own privacy warning that is coming soon to iPhones.
On Monday, Facebook announced that it has a new prompt for users to read in its app, which it crafted to preempt a privacy message that is coming from Apple in a software update in the coming weeks. Facebook, like all app developers, has been trying to get ahead of Apple’s new changes, and now it literally is with this message.
“It will provide more information about how we use personalized ads, which support small businesses and keep apps free. If you accept the prompts for Facebook and Instagram, the ads you see on those apps won’t change,” Facebook said. “If you decline, you will still see ads, but they will be less relevant to you. Agreeing to these prompts doesn’t result in Facebook collecting new types of data. It just means that we can continue to give people better experiences.”
After users see that notice on Facebook, they would then get Apple’s privacy request form, which is part of its new iOS 14 privacy program. Apple is trying to upend the way consumers are tracked online by giving them more tools to reject sharing their data with apps, which will affect everyone from social media to retailers to banks to games. Apple wants everyone using an app to know how online behavior is monitored, and for consumers to consent.
Facebook has bucked under Apple’s new constraints, as the company thinks that the restrictions will make it impossible to build personalized services and open the ecosystem to third parties that also want build services. Facebook says that it will hurt millions of small businesses.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been in a heated war of words, and possible litigation, over the competing visions of the internet. Apple has made a number of changes to its device software and Safari web browser to limit internet tracking. Last year, Apple put out privacy “nutrition labels” in the App Store, which showed more clearly all the ways any given app requests user data including location, web browsing, photos, microphone access and more. The transparency move spooked developers who worried that the stark reminders about tracking would turn off consumers.
Developers of all stripes fear similar reactions when consumers start seeing Apple’s new privacy notice, which will ask users to consent to sharing data with the apps. Last month, Bumble, the dating app, filed for an initial public offering and warned potential investors that new privacy rules from Apple could turn off consumers. Bumble warned the opt-in rate, the number of users who consent to tracking, could reach only 20%, and possibly 0%.
Those concerns are why Facebook is trying to craft its own message to convince its users of the benefits of its programs. Apple has said it would work with developers in ways that allow them to present their value to users, which could help drive up the opt-in rates.
If consumers block tracking en masse, it will change how ads are able to be targeted effectively and how advertisers measure the performance of ads. The entire industry is concerned about the disruption. At the same time, there is a privacy movement underway, where consumers and lawmakers are demanding more accountability over how data is protected online.
Apple has not given too much guidance, though, on its rules for customized messages, like the one Facebook unveiled on Monday. But Facebook clearly thinks it falls within Apple’s guidelines. “We feel that people deserve the additional context, and Apple has said that providing education is allowed,” Facebook said.