The Battle of Big Tech

Ever since the Fortnite craze that took off in 2017, the tech world has been enamored by battles royale. Now in 2021, the stage is being set for one of tech’s biggest standoffs: Facebook versus Apple. The stakes? Your privacy and – as Facebook claims – the lifeblood of small businesses: targeted advertising.

So what’s all the fuss about?

In the coming months, Apple plans to roll out a software update to the roughly 900 million iPhones in use globally. Nothing crazy – this happens all the time, right? There’s something different in this update that has the Zuck worried, though. Apple’s update to iOS 14 will contain a new feature called ATT – or App Tracking Transparency – prompting iPhone users to give apps permission to track them across other apps and the web. The ATT aims to protect Apple users from unknowingly supplying companies – like Facebook or Google – with their personal information. Makes sense to me!

Though this may come as a shock to some, apps have been sifting through users’ data and information for years. You agree to it when accepting the terms and conditions that no one reads and even if you did, you’d need a lawyer to translate.

The update to iOS14 helps protect users’ data and identity by giving iPhone users the control to choose what information is tracked and by which applications.

Over at the ‘Book, Zuck et al. approach this looming predicament differently; however. They allege that, “personalization powers discovery”. In other words, without the data Facebook is collecting through your usage of other apps and web traffic, Facebook won’t be able to serve you ads that directly relate to what Facebook interprets as your life.

They see this as a threat. Why? It’s simple. The social media giant raked in $86 BILLION in annual revenue from their targeted ad service just last year (during a pandemic, just in case you needed a reminder). We’d be worried too if a huge part of our revenue stream was going to potentially be cut off.

But there’s a morality battle happening behind the scenes. While Apple has been more open about privacy concerns, Facebook is approaching the argument by contending that small businesses will suffer because marketers won’t be able specialize their advertising towards a very specific audience.

According to Zuckerberg, “Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests.” On the contrary, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook argues that the change is rooted in Apple’s belief that “users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.”

To be fair, though the two companies live in the tech realm, their business models are very different. Because of these differences, each company (and their faithful following) may view this conundrum through a different lens. Facebook is a free social media platform whose main revenue stream is selling ad space to marketers and companies through their product, Facebook Ads Manager. Apple manufactures and sells computers and phones, making a large profit off its homegrown App store fees. Don’t get us wrong, both companies do have valid arguments, but with the recent calls for Big Tech reform and antitrust suits gaining momentum worldwide, we think this move will benefit Apple.

What do you think? Are you going to turn on ATT when the feature rolls out?

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