Facebook says iOS 14’s new privacy tools could harm its ad business

Apple has made it even more difficult for developers to mine your data on iOS 14. One of the new additions prevents advertisers to covertly track you across nearly all the apps and websites and Facebook for one is not looking forward to it.

On Facebook’s Q2 follow-up earnings call, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, David Wehner called the forthcoming update a “headwind” and said it will “make it harder for app developers and others to grow using ads on Facebook and, really, outside of Apple, to some extent.”

More importantly, Wehner hinted that iOS 14 could potentially hurt its ad business, the social network’s primary source of revenue, later in this year’s fourth quarter which is when Apple is expected to broadly roll out the update. He added such “aggressive platform policy changes” also pose a threat to small businesses that depend on ad tracking especially during a pandemic when “online is so important”.

“I think we’ve seen these online platforms like Facebook and targeted ads have really been a great help to help small businesses during a time when that lifeline online is so important, and we are concerned that aggressive platform policy changes will cut at that lifeline at a time when businesses really need it to grow,” he said.

The particular feature, in question, is iOS 14’s new ad tracking consent option. iPhone developers will soon have to explicitly ask users before they can track them across apps or websites they don’t own.

Each device has a unique ID that advertisers employ to collate the personal data they’ve collected on you from thousands of services and identify you. This enables them to show you ads that specifically cater to your interests — irrespective of which app or website you’re on. iOS 14 doesn’t put an end to this practice but it makes it mandatory for developers to offer an opt-in switch.

Facebook isn’t alone, however. A group of several European advertisers has said to have expressed similar concerns and argued that the new pop-up warning carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

Since its beta release, iOS 14 has already unmasked how many developers such as TikTok were secretly reading everything iPhone users copied on their phones. The practice has also reportedly landed Linkedin in a lawsuit by a New York-based iPhone user who alleged that the Microsoft-owned company reads the clipboard information without consent.

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