Facebook has said a lot about Apple's upcoming privacy changes, due to arrive with the next update of iOS 14. That change will require app developers to request permission before they track users. Facebook takes particular issue with this since its business is almost entirely based on tracking what users do online and then showing them what it calls "personalized ads."
Clearly, Facebook views those changes as an existential threat. To that end, Facebook has accused Apple of attacking small businesses, of having self-serving motivation for making the change, and even of favoring its own apps over third parties'. I think we could debate each of those things, but honestly, what's much more interesting, at least in my opinion, is what Facebook isn't saying.
Facebook is trying to create the narrative that Apple is doing something nefarious that is targeting Facebook's business and hurting small businesses. What Apple is really doing is simply giving users a choice over whether they want to be tracked.
Facebook knows that a lot of people don't want to be tracked at all. Everyone has had the experience of looking for something online, only to have an ad appear for the exact pair of shoes you were looking at. Even worse is that often people don't even remember looking something up; they had just thought about it or had a conversation with their partner--and now they're seeing ads on Facebook.
No, Facebook isn't listening to your conversations--it doesn't need to. It just knows that much about you because it tracks you across the internet and even the apps on your smartphone. If all of that seems a little creepy, you can understand why the company doesn't want you thinking about it. In fact, the only reason it gets away with it at this point is that most people aren't.
And, that's the point: Facebook doesn't want people thinking about it at all.
But Facebook can't say that, because it would require admitting that it realizes people think all of that tracking is creepy. Facebook doesn't want to be the bad guy in this story, so it had to create one--Apple. You know, the company that wants to give you a choice over whether you'll be tracked.
By the way, Apple isn't saying that Facebook, or any other app for that matter, shouldn't track you. It's just saying they should have to ask permission. Even that goes too far for Facebook because it knows that--if given a choice--a non-zero number of its users will opt to not allow the social media app to track them.
Think about that for a minute--Facebook knows that some number of people that it is currently tracking would rather the company didn't. The only reason it gets away with it is that they either don't know it's happening or they don't know they have a choice.
When given the choice, they'll decide they no longer want Facebook to scoop up their browsing activity. Sure, there's probably a lot of people who very well may not care at all. They may be perfectly fine with being tracked. They may even value the personalized ads.
They should still have a choice.
The thing is, Facebook isn't making a case for that either. Instead of trying to solve the problem by coming up with a better product that doesn't invade people's privacy or creep them out, Facebook is trying to figure out how to keep it all a secret. It doesn't want to talk about that part--at all.
Instead of acknowledging that some people might not be comfortable with that level of privacy, it's trying to distract its users by pointing at how terrible Apple's decision is for small businesses--many of which, by the way, were around long before you could advertise on Facebook.
Maybe that's the part it really doesn't want to talk about.