Facebook is facing tough times ahead by its own accord. When Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature launches to all with the release of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, it will ask users to opt-in if they want to continue being tracked for advertising purposes. Most people are expected to automatically opt out and this has Facebook and its executives livid. The social networking firm ran a full-page ad against Apple in December; that same month Facebook’s VP for ads and Business Products, Dan Levy, said, “Apple is behaving anti-competitively by using their control of the App Store to benefit their bottom line at the expense of creators and small businesses. Full stop.”
Zuckerberg told his team to inflict pain on Apple back in 2018
What has Facebook so upset is the potential drop in advertising revenue that it says could occur once Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature is disseminated. For all of 2020, Facebook generated $85 billion in advertising revenue and the company itself said last year that as much as 50% in advertising revenue is at risk thanks to Apple’s ATT. This means that plenty of money is on the line.
Mark Zuckerberg told his team to inflict pain on Apple after Tim Cook made some comments back in 2018
This isn’t the first time that Zuckerberg has showed serious animosity toward Apple. According to the Wall Street Journal, back in 2018 when word got out that 87 million Facebook subscribers had their personal data stolen by a firm called Cambridge Analytica, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an nationally televised interview that Apple would never make its customers the product. Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a subsequent meeting, told his team in private that “we need to inflict pain” on Apple because the tech giant has treated his company so poorly. In public, those familiar with his response say that Zuckerberg responded to the Apple executive by calling his comments “extremely glib” and “not at all aligned with the truth.”
The battle between Apple and Facebook reminds us of the old-time Westerns. Apple is wearing the white hat as it rides in as the good guys seeking to uphold privacy throughout the town. Facebook wears the black hat and has been terrorizing citizens. But Facebook sees Apple’s actions as hypocritical since it does plenty of business in China where personal privacy is scarce. Apple’s Cook most likely had Facebook in mind when he gave a speech last month putting down “conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms.” Coming days after the Capitol was under siege, the executive’s comments were aimed at Facebook users who were spreading baseless conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 presidential election and other bogus stories pushed by QAnon believers and other conspiracy theorists. Again, the CEO didn’t refer to Facebook by name, but it was clear that it was Facebook he was calling out for having a business model that he said promotes violence and divisiveness.
Both Apple and Facebook have different plans for the internet which also intensifies the battle between the two firms. The WSJ notes that Facebook is looking “to capture and monetize eyeballs on every possible device and platform.” Apple is focusing on its hardware and is promoting its privacy platform as a reason why consumers should purchase its devices and favor its ecosystem.
A Facebook spokeswoman named Dani Lever said that the company believes consumers can enjoy both personalized service and privacy and that Facebook delivers both. Lever says that Facebook is “deliberately standing up to Apple” on behalf of businesses and developers who will be hurt by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature. She declared that this dispute is not personal and added to that by stating, “This is not about two companies. This is about the future of the free internet. Apple claims this is about privacy, but it’s about profit, and we’re joining others to point out their self-preferencing, anticompetitive behavior.”