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Facebook and Instagram notifications in iOS apps say tracking users helps them be “free”

Facebook is continuing its campaign against Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates by adding a notice in its iOS app telling users that information it collects from other apps and websites could “help make Facebook free.” A similar message was seen in the iOS app on Instagram (Facebook is the parent company of Instagram). Technology researcher Ashkan Soltani first noted the new pop-ups on Saturday. They appear as part of an explanation of iOS 14 policy updates.

“This version of iOS requires us to request permission to track some data from these devices in order to improve your ads. Learn how we restrict the use of this information if you do not turn on this device setting, ”reads the pop-up screen. “We use information about your activity from other apps and websites to: show ads that are more personalized, help keep Facebook free [and] support businesses that rely on advertisements to reach their customers. “(Failed to make this screen appear on my iPhone running iOS 1


New requirements for inclusion in the latest versions of iOS 14, including iOS 14.5, require developers to obtain explicit consent from device owners to allow the sharing and collection of their advertiser ID (IDFA) in applications. Under Apple’s new policy, app developers can still use other information that a user provides for targeted advertising, even if the user refuses to let the app track them, but that information can’t be shared with another tracking company. advertising.

If developers try to circumvent the inclusion requirement or try to replace IDFA with other identifying information, such as an email address, this application will be considered a violation of the inclusion requirement. The rules also apply to Apple’s own applications.

Facebook has been a vocal critic of Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates, arguing that privacy changes could hurt small businesses that can rely on Facebook’s ad network to reach customers. In press releases and in newspaper ads, Facebook said Apple was promoting new business models for apps so they relied less on advertising and more on subscriptions, which could potentially reduce Apple.

But the “keep Facebook / Instagram free” tactic seems to run counter to Facebook’s long-standing slogan, which shows that the company is “free and always will be.” Of course, Facebook quietly removed that slogan from its homepage in 2019, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not rule out a paid version of Facebook when he testified before Congress in 2018. “There will always be a free version of Facebook,” he said.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. But Zuckerberg called Apple during Facebook’s profit call in January, citing Apple as one of his company’s biggest competitors. “Apple has every incentive to use its dominant position on the platform to interfere with the way our apps and other apps they do on a regular basis in order to prefer theirs,” Zuckerberg said. “This is affecting the growth of millions of businesses around the world, including the upcoming changes to iOS 14.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

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