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Facebook to Comply with Apple’s Upcoming User Tracking Restrictions

Facebook to Comply with Apple’s Upcoming User Tracking Restrictions

Facebook has resigned itself to the upcoming privacy changes in iOS 14. The company, in a new memo that it sent out to businesses on Wednesday, said it was compelled to respect the new guidelines by Apple or be forced out from App Store, Arstechnica reports.

Facebook stated in its memo to businesses that it does not agree with Apple’s new guideline – the App Tracking Transparency feature, which mandates apps to obtain permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites, but it will comply with it.

Facebook has complained about how Apple’s new policy will have far-reaching adverse implications on advertising optimization and analyzing the effectiveness of campaigns. The company has also chided Apple, saying the new policy benefits the iPhone maker while negatively affecting the ability of small businesses to grow using personalized advertising.

The social media giant said it believes that personalized ads and user privacy do not have to be exclusive of each other. Although Apple agrees on this fact with Facebook, the two companies are at loggerheads on what actually constitutes user privacy.

Facebook has warned that if users do opt-out of tracking, the ability for personalized advertising to help businesses would be significantly reduced. The company said advertisers would also be unable to evaluate the success or otherwise of ad campaigns.

Since Apple made its new policy public, Facebook led other personalized marketing apps to decry the potential impact of the policy. The company published full-page ads in leading newspapers in the US, criticizing Apple on its new move and advocating that the company drop its proposed plans. Facebook complained that app makers stand the chance of losing as much as half of their revenues if personalized ads are restricted.

The new App Tracking Transparency feature is expected to be launched very early this year. Apple had wanted to so in September 2020 but postponed its plans to give app developers time to adapt.

In other news, app developers have started exploring subtle means to track users despite Apple’s proposed guidelines. Most developers aim to use a tracking method such as device fingerprinting to escape the new restrictions by Apple. However, doing so comes at the risk of getting banned from the App Store if Apple detects any developer using such an invasive approach.

A mobile games developer noted that it was very certain that most developers would take the fingerprint route, irrespective of whether Apple decides to go ahead with their policy or not. Many advocates of more privacy for users have extolled the new policy by Apple. However, most are also aware that it is impossible to get rid of tracking totally.

A significant number of developers, most of whom are under pressure to avoid losing revenue, in their desperation, are planning to use invasive forms of tracking even if users do not grant them permission to track.

Using fingerprints, apps can track the activities of users across the web, especially from the same smartphone. Although the App Store bans this technique, it is one method that is difficult to detect. It remains to be seen if developers will be moving ahead with this step at the risk of getting caught by Apple and subsequently being yanked off the App Store – a $500 billion worth ecosystem.


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