Meta Partly Blames Apple's iOS Privacy Changes for Slowing Its 2022 Hiring Plans
Meta, still better known as Facebook, plans to hire fewer new employees for the remainder of 2022 than previously planned, the company's chief financial officer, David Wehner, said in an internal memo obtained by Business Insider that partly blamed Apple.
In the letter to Meta employees, Wehner said that the company needs to "take another look at our priorities and make some tough decisions about what projects we go after in both the short and medium-term." Due to slower than expected revenue growth for the last quarter, which Wehner partly blames on Apple's ATT (App Tracking Transparency) framework, Meta will hire fewer employees for the rest of 2022.
Wehner said this change "will affect almost every team in the company," adding "this will be an opportunity to reprioritize work to make sure we're all focused on the most important things." Wehner remains optimistic, however, about what's to come despite a turbulent last few quarters.
Most notably, Wehner said that Meta hopes its incorporation of AI into its ad business will help mitigate losses caused by Apple's ATT framework. The ATT framework, launched in 2020, gives users a choice on whether they wish to be tracked or not across apps and websites owned by other companies. More than any other company, Meta was and continues to be vocal against giving users that choice.
When users first open an app on iOS 14.5 and later, they can choose "Allow Tracking" or "Ask App Not to Track." With the latter, that app no longer has access to a critical piece of information known as IDFA, or Identifier for Advertisers, which makes it harder to target personalized ads to that user.
In December 2020, Meta took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post calling Apple's privacy changes bad for small businesses. Meta said in the ad that "limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us," adding Apple's "forced software update" will "limit businesses' ability to run personalized ads and reach their customers effectively."
Over a month later, Apple's CEO Tim Cook said in a speech that Apple has long championed user privacy and that ATT is a step in the right direction. "ATT responds to a very real issue," Cook said. "Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it. And we're here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom."
Referencing data brokers and ill-intended companies, Cook added, "it has never been so clear how it degrades our fundamental right to privacy first, and our social fabric by consequence." Zuckerberg said that Apple's privacy features are targeted at changing how Meta operates, claiming the changes are only self-serving to Apple.
Cook said in a tweet that even with ATT, Meta can "continue to track users across apps and websites as before" but that thanks to ATT, users now simply have a choice.