EFF Calls Facebook's Criticism of Apple's Pro-Privacy Tracking Change 'Laughable'

Facebook's recent criticism directed at Apple over an upcoming tracking-related privacy measure is "laughable," according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world.

facebook data sharing
Facebook has claimed that Apple's new opt-in tracking policy will hurt small businesses who benefit from personalized advertising, but the EFF believes that Facebook's campaign against Apple is really about "what Facebook stands to lose if its users learn more about exactly what it and other data brokers are up to behind the scenes," noting that Facebook has "built a massive empire around the concept of tracking everything you do."

Starting early next year, developers of iPhone and iPad apps will need to request permission from users to track their activity across apps and websites owned by other companies for personalized advertising purposes. Specifically, users will be presented with a prompt to allow or deny tracking as necessary when opening apps on iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.

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According to the EFF, a number of studies have shown that most of the money made from targeted advertising does not reach app developers, and instead goes to third-party data brokers like Facebook, Google, and lesser-known firms.

"Facebook touts itself in this case as protecting small businesses, and that couldn't be further from the truth," the EFF said. "Facebook has locked them into a situation in which they are forced to be sneaky and adverse to their own customers. The answer cannot be to defend that broken system at the cost of their own users' privacy and control."

Facebook has argued that Apple's move "isn't about privacy, it's about profit," claiming that Apple's new policy will leave many apps and websites with no choice but to start charging subscription fees or add more in-app purchase options to make ends meet, in turn increasing App Store revenue. Facebook said this scenario will make the internet "much more expensive" and reduce "high-quality free content."

"We disagree with Apple's approach and solution, yet we have no choice but to show Apple's prompt," Facebook said. "If we don't, they will block Facebook from the App Store, which would only further harm the people and businesses that rely on our services. We cannot take this risk on behalf of the millions of businesses who use our platform to grow."

In response to Facebook, Apple expressed that users deserve control and transparency. "We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users," said Apple, adding that "users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not."

The EFF applauded Apple for its pro-privacy change, calling it a great step forward.

"When a company does the right thing for its users, EFF will stand with it, just as we will come down hard on companies that do the wrong thing," the organization concluded. "Here, Apple is right and Facebook is wrong."

Top Rated Comments

baryon Avatar
23 months ago
It's funny to see Facebook suddenly hiding behind "small businesses" and making it sound like they care so much about them. "Oh no it's fine with us, we don't mind, we're big and rich, it's the small businesses that we care so much about... And the puppies! The puppies will be really sad! Apple is killing them!"
Score: 110 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
23 months ago
who isn't laughing at Facebook these days?
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mdracer Avatar
23 months ago
I own a small brick and mortar store. Facebook is the last company I would think that has my back. Due to their algorithms my ad payments to them have gone up but the feedback and impressions I get has drastically reduced. Guess what.. they don't care and have no way of actually assisting me with making my money go further. Get Bent FB!
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarpalMac Avatar
23 months ago
Perhaps I am in the minority, but not once have I ever clicked on adverts when browsing. Targeted adverts, when I have seen them when my blocker has been deactivated, invariably just show me the very same things I had searched for a little earlier.

So, with that in mind, and ignoring the blatant ulterior motive, I personally must also declare Facebooks argument: Laughable and flawed.

What I do enjoy though is the thought of Zuck"please call me the messiah" being worried, and maybe Facebook going the way of MySpace. Here's hoping.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CallDownFire Avatar
23 months ago
Totally laughable! Facebook has never tried to protect anyone or anything but themselves. The FACT that facebook tracks everything about and uses it against you and then cries wolf when Apple is shedding light on it and equipping us with tools to stop the malicious behavior is just—laughable!
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Darmok N Jalad Avatar
23 months ago
So with this statement by the EFF, I wonder if Facebook's algorithms have properly marked Facebook's statement as "False Information" that has been "Checked by independent fact checkers"? I doubt that door swings both ways.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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