Apple and Facebook at loggerheads over data privacy

·2-min read
Personal data isn't used in the same way when using an Apple service or when using the Facebook mobile app.

Historically, Apple and Facebook have always had divergent policies when it comes to handling user data. While Apple often paints itself as a champion of data privacy, Facebook has built its whole business model on using that data. Currently, the two tech giants are clashing over plans to give users the option of accepting or refusing the collection of their data when they download an application from the App Store.

It all started with Apple's decision to introduce a warning message with each new download from the App Store in the latest version of iOS, coming this spring. The message will ask users if they accept to have their personal data collected by the application they are installing.

That provoked an angry reaction from Facebook, which has put collecting user data is at the heart of its business model. Facebook is particularly concerned about the decision's potential impact on all the companies that currently use it for advertising purposes, and who earn a large part of their revenue from that. They view being penalized in this way as particularly unjust, and Facebook is now considering filing a lawsuit against Apple for abusing its dominant position.

Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook are now taking aim at one another by various means and media. Facebook launched a marketing campaign encouraging its members to accept being tracked for advertising purposes, arguing that this gives them the benefit of targeted advertising, which is always preferable to seeing random ads. Facebook is above all playing up its defense of the small and medium-sized companies that are increasingly dependent on advertising to survive amid the pandemic and its economic impacts. Against the social network, Apple is more than ever positioning itself as a bastion of data protection for users of its products, such as the iPhone.

So amid all of this, where does that leave users? Rest assured, that it should still be possible to use the Facebook app on your iPhone, with or without giving consent for the collection of personal data.

This isn't the first time that Apple has thrown a spanner in the works for one of its App Store's star applications. Epic Games' "Fortnite," was banned from the App Store in summer 2020 for flouting Apple's rules on collecting commission (30%) on in-app purchases.

David Bénard