Facebook is upset with Apple because new iOS update allows iPhone users to opt out of tracking

By: |
December 18, 2020 2:16 PM

Facebook claims it is standing up for small businesses, while Apple says it is standing up for its users.

Facebook recently released the Facebook app version 300.0 for the iOS.

Apple privacy policy: Facebook is repeatedly under fire from Apple for collecting vast amounts of user data. In this regard, Cupertino had earlier this year released a software update – the iOS 14 – which aims to bar Facebook from tracking user movements outside of Facebook-owned apps, i.e., Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp without their consent. However, while Facebook had been worried about how this would impact its targeted ads segment, the social media giant is still pushing against Apple and collecting massive amounts of data.

Data collected by Facebook

Facebook recently released the Facebook app version 300.0 for the iOS. Financial Express Online took a closer look at all the kinds of data that the social media giant is collecting through its products, on the iPhone.

Apart from the information that users provide to Facebook while signing up for its products, creating posts, sharing location or metadata of pictures or while using the in-app cameras, Facebook also gathers data regarding the users’ networks and communications, which includes the people, pages, hashtags, accounts and groups the users are connected to and the people that the users interact with the most. Moreover, information uploaded, imported or synced with these products from the phones or devices, like SMS or call logs and address books, is also collected by the social media giant.

The way people use these apps – the content they view, the features they like, the time and frequency of activity, and the people or accounts they interact with – is also monitored and collected by the user.

When any purchase is made using Facebook-owned products, the giant gathers information about the purchase or transaction including the number of the debit or credit card, account and authentication information and contact details, billing and delivery.

Information shared by other users regarding a user is also gathered by the giant, including when someone uploads a picture or content regarding a user, send a message to them, or upload, sync or import their contact information.

That is not where it ends though. While not entirely ethical, Facebook gathering data from apps owned by it still seems okay. However, Facebook also collects information from the phones, computers, TVs and other devices used by customers that integrate with Facebook’s products.

Device attributes like the OS, software and hardware versions, signal strength, mouse movements, battery level, and windows open in foreground and background. Apart from that, unique device identifiers like device ID, identifiers from games or apps a user has, and Family Device IDs are also collected. Bluetooth signals, Wi-Fi access points nearby, mobile phone masts and beacons are collected along with information like GPS location, camera and photos, if the user has permitted Facebook to access them through device settings.

Other information like name of the mobile operator or the ISP, time zone, language, phone number, speed of connection, IP address, and even information about other devices nearby or on a user’s network is collected, apart from the cookie data.

Not just that. Facebook also requires its partners like advertisers, app developers and publishers to send information regarding user activities off Facebook, device information, websites visited by the user, purchases made, ads they see, as well as the manner in which the user utilises the services of these partners. This information is shared with the social media giant regardless of whether the user has an account on Facebook or is logged in or not.

How does Facebook use this information?

Facebook says that this information is used to personalise services provided to the users like targeted ads, to tailor and customise the user experience on the products. Facebook also says that information like current location, the place where a user lives or places, they like to go to, is used to personalise and improve the products that Facebook offers to users. Location information is collected using device location, if shared, or IP addresses.

The information is also used to help advertisers and other Facebook partners to measure the distribution of ads and services and for other analytical purposes.

Facebook also claims that this information helps in promoting safety, integrity and security, as it uses it to verify accounts and activity and to combat harmful conduct and prevent scam.

Facebook targets Apple

Facebook has been worried over Apple’s new iOS privacy labels policy and how it would impact the targeted ads segment, which forms a major source of revenue for the social media giant. To this effect, it has taken to full-page newspaper ads in the US to criticise Apple’s move to “limit businesses” in their ability to reach customers effectively, while claiming that Facebook is standing up for small businesses, a pitch which it has used for several of its electronic ads over the years as well. The full-page ads ran across influential papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Facebook said that while the stopping of targeted ads would also impact big companies, the move would be especially devastating for small businesses.

Apple rebutted to Facebook’s criticism and bold claims and stated that the update is not going to stop users from being tracked if they wish to do so. The only thing changing is that users would have to explicitly give permission to Facebook and other apps before Apple would allow them to track and monitor their online activities.

While Facebook claimed it was standing up for small businesses, Cupertino, in its response, stated that it was standing up for its users, which, it said, was a simple matter. The iPhone maker said that users must be in the know when their data is being collected and shared with other apps and websites and the choice for that should remain in their hands.

The ads followed Apple’s announcement that it would be detailing the kinds of personal information that digital services in its app stores would be collecting. Cupertino is also looking to make it mandatory for all iPhone apps to get explicit permission before they can track user movements. Several apps have this surveillance on by default, and the onus of blocking these apps falls on the users. Cupertino, which stands for customer service and convenience, has not taken well to this, and once the changes become effective next year, Apple said it would begin ousting apps that attempt to bypass the anti-tracking rules.

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