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Facebook and Instagram notify iOS users to allow tracking to keep apps ‘free of charge’

Facebook added a new twist to its battle against iOS 14’s privacy changes by issuing a notice in the iOS apps for Facebook and Instagram notifying users that tracking them helps keep the apps ‘free of charge’, hereby encouraging more users to enable tracking settings.

It’s no surprise that iOS 14’s new privacy changes are devastating for just about any app that relies on user tracking, especially networks like Facebook that serve targetted ads based on tracking the user on their platform. Being an ad-based company, Facebook revenues will take a major hit if its ad model is disturbed. 

Facebook has been one of the most vocal critics of these privacy updates arguing that implementing these changes will hurt small and niche business that can effectively utilise targeted ads to attract customers. 

What did Facebook do?

The new notices were first noticed by tech researcher Ashkan Soltani who tweeted about the screens labelling them a ‘scare tactic’. On the other hand, Facebook is calling these screens ‘educational notices’ that provide more information on how they use data for personalised ads. 

The company also updated this information in a blog post about the new iOS policies on 26 April. It was originally published on December 16 2020. 

Facebook goes on to denote that since providing additional context as to why they require tracking is allowed, they’re putting out these screens to help people make an informed decision about how their data is used. 

The screen basically tells users that Facebook needs their permission to track them from this version of iOS onwards. They also mention that “information about activity received from 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”.

However, this move goes against Facebook’s previous stance that the company was ‘free and always will be’. Facebook removed this slogan from their homepage back in 2019. 

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