Facebook and Instagram Launch Notices that Tracking Keeps Them “Free of Charge”

PENANG, MALAYSIA - July 19, 2019: Smartphone with Facebook social media application. Showing Privacy Basics on screen. Facebook security and privacy issues.
Facebook is an avid opponent of the privacy setting changes.

Facebook continues its campaign against the privacy updates in iOS 14, telling users that information collected from other apps “help keep Facebook free of charge.” A similar message appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. 


The company calls these notices “educational screens” and says they offer “more details about how we use data for personalized ads.” 


“This version of iOS requires us to ask for permission to track some data from this devices to improve your ads. Learn how we limit the use of this information if you don’t turn on this device setting,” the message reads. “We use information about your activity received form other apps and websites to: show you ads that are more personalized, help keep Facebook free of charge [and] support businesses that rely on ads to reach their customers.”


The new iOS version 14 requires app developers to get express consent from users to use their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) across apps. The new policy means app developers can use information provided by users for targeted advertising, but the information can’t be shared with other companies for advertising purposes. 


If developers attempt to get around this opt-in requirement or try to use another piece of identifiable information, such as an email address, the app is considered in violation of the agreement. These rules even apply to bespoke Apple apps. 


Facebook has rallied against the new privacy updates, arguing that these changes could affect small businesses that rely on Facebook advertising to reach consumers. Facebook has released statements saying that Apple is encouraging new business models so that apps rely more on subscriptions over advertising – subscriptions Apple gets a cut from. 


This new “Keep Facebook Free” approach seems counter to the official tagline of the company, which states that Facebook is “free and always will be.” Facebook noticeably removed that slogan in 2019, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has never denied the potential for a paid version of Facebook.

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