Facebook expects ‘increased headwinds’ after new iPhone update

Facebook is expecting “increased … headwinds” in 2021 despite Apple’s controversial change to its iPhone operating system, which is expected to make ad tracking more difficult.

Company COO Sheryl Sandberg said that it has been doing a “huge amount of work” to prepare for iOS 14.5, which introduces Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to the vast majority of iPhones that would make it harder for advertisers to track people between apps.

As Facebook profits from gathering data on its users and using that to inform ads, this has been a point of contention between the technology giants.

The social media giant is “working with our customers to implement Apple’s API and our own aggregated events measurement API to mitigate the impact of the iOS 14 changes”. Facebook will continually make the case that “personalised advertising is good for people and businesses, and to better explain how it works so that businesses don’t have to understand the alphabet soup of acronyms”.

The iPhone change is “bigger than this particular update”, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said in the company’s Q1 earning call for 2021.

“Apple has a number of private APIs on hardware and software that advantage their own products and services in ways that are challenging. We face that issue in places like our messaging products, and even with the hardware products we’re launching. So we generally don’t think this closed approach is the best one for the industry from an innovation perspective.”

Facebook had previously said that it would pre-empt Apple’s own pop-up with one of its own. “Apple’s new prompt suggests there is a tradeoff between personalised advertising and privacy; when in fact, we can and do provide both,” a Facebook blog post from February 2021 stated.

Nevertheless, recent conversations between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook suggest that the companies’ feud is far from over.

In 2019, Mr Zuckerberg had apparently asked Mr Cook how he would have handled the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Mr Cook responded that Facebook should simply delete information it had collected outside of its core apps, according toThe New York Times.

Since then, Facebook has attacked Apple for apparently feigning its privacy concerns, claiming that Apple had “expanded its business into advertising and through its upcoming iOS 14 changes is trying to move the free internet into paid apps and services where they profit”.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief, said in an interview with The Independent that the company did not dominate any markets and is instead offering customers’ a choice of which platform to use.


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