What’s Behind the Apple-Facebook Feud?

Apple’s message seems simpler.

That’s true. Apple’s view is that it’s simply giving people a choice of whether to be tracked across apps or not. Facebook’s argument to the public is more complex — that they have to be tracked for the internet to work, and that people don’t know what’s good for them.

Wait, let’s go back to the hypocrisy part.

Facebook is worried about its own profits being hurt by Apple’s new feature. It has mostly focused, though, on making the smaller businesses that advertise on Facebook the face of its opposition to Apple’s app-tracking feature. Yes, smaller companies could be hurt, but it’s fair to ask whether my local pizzeria needs to know what I’m doing on a fitness app to effectively advertise to me.

And Apple won’t admit that what it’s doing is great for the company, not just iPhone owners. It’s good marketing to be able to say that iPhones are the place for privacy. Apple also says that targeted digital advertising is dangerous, but it gets billions of dollars each year from Google, the biggest targeted ad company.

Is it possible that this iPhone app-tracking feature won’t be a big deal?

To be honest, yes. It’s not easy to predict the impact of this iPhone change or whether companies will counter it with different information-gathering methods. There’s a chance that lots of people say no to app tracking when iPhones offer the choice, but the advertising industry keeps chugging along.


Tip of the Week

Brian X. Chen, the consumer technology columnist for The New York Times, is here to guide us through new capabilities for Siri that are also part of the updated iPhone software:

In my latest column, I dived into some of the most notable new features in Apple’s iOS 14.5, the software update for iPhones and iPads that Apple plans to release on Monday. (Look for the update in the Settings app and the “Software Update” menu.)

But there’s lots of other new goodies in the updated software focused on Siri, Apple’s voice assistant.

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