Facebook blasts Apple in new ads over iPhone privacy change

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

Facebook ran ads and published a new website Wednesday decrying Apple over a privacy change that it claims will “[threaten] the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers.” 

The company is running print and digital ads today in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post that says: “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.” It also has a new website on the change to iOS 14 that affects opt-in for Apple’s ad identifier, the IDFA.

“Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend,” the ad reads. “While limiting how personalized ads can be used does impact larger companies like us, these changes will be devastating to small businesses, adding to the many challenges they face right now.”

The ad leads readers to a link for a website on Facebook for Business, which includes video of interviews from business owners speaking out about the ad change. It also includes explanations of what will happen, and a “toolkit” to make posts with the hashtag “#SpeakUpForSmall” to talk about the change. 

Apple will soon be making a huge change to settings on users’ iPhones in the name of privacy, and it will fundamentally change mobile advertising on those devices. It will take a privacy option that was previously buried deep in users’ phones and put it front and center when they open an app, which is expected to dramatically impact the ability of advertisers to target ads the way they have been since people likely won’t opt in.

Facebook has been outspoken about the change, accusing Apple with its iOS changes of moving the free, ad-supported internet into paid apps and services, where Apple can take its 30% cut, and crushing small businesses’ ability to do personalized advertising.

Also on Wednesday, Facebook accused Apple of using its power to “harm developers and consumers” as it welcomed draft laws outlined by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU. The laws introduce rules for platforms that act as “gatekeepers” in the digital sector, while the DSA is designed to address illegal and harmful content by asking platforms to quickly take it down.

Apple was not immediately available to comment.

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