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Facebook and Apple Fight is About Monetizing You

If you’ve downloaded and installed Apple’s iOS 14.3 update for iPhones and iPads, you’ve put yourself in the sights of Facebook and Apple. Called “App Tracking Transparency” feature, it labels apps in the App Store, telling users what data those apps collect and whether it’s used to track them for advertising. Facebook, which makes its money from advertising, says the feature will harm small businesses that rely on targeted online advertising.

In many cases, you’re worth pennies on the dollar, but there are hundreds of billions of pennies at stake. And while both sides try to cloak their stands in privacy and free enterprise, it’s really about “fee enterprise.”

The gist of Apple’s policy is that when you download an app from the App Store, your activity on the device can’t be tracked unless you give permission. Until now, you had to opt-out to avoid being stalked electronically online. Most people usually ignore the opt-out/opt-in option, and Facebook and other web-based operations have made a lot of money by tracking you and selling the data to companies who want to sell something you want – or have indicated you may want.

According to a recent article in Forbes, Facebook itself estimates a 60-percent swing in advertising effectiveness between targeting and non-targeted advertisements. Facebook’s ad charges the article notes, will presumably match its ad-placement effectiveness. With the company controlling about 25 percent of a $40 billion online U.S. advertising market, up to $6 billion in annual revenue is at stake in the US alone. Google and Amazon also profit immensely from tracking you and selling your data.

The bottom line is that anyone who opts out is 60% less valuable than a regular customer, and that’s part of legal proceedings before the Federal Trade Commission and in 48 states. Apple, of course, has been taken to task for its practices in handling App Store operations, including who gets to put apps there, and other technical issues. They’re not saints, but that’s a separate issue from the Facebook issue.

The Forbes article likens Facebook’s operations to Ladies Night at a nightclub. On Ladies Night, clubs let women in for free expecting that they will attract men who will pay a cover, as well as spend money on the women and themselves. In a similar way, Facebook provides users with free services in the hope that advertisers will spend money on them. Facebook is like the owner-bartender who, for $10, will tell you everything he knows about a particular woman, including her relationship status and favorite drink.

I can’t speak for how a woman might feel after reading this, but anyone can feel some outrage about being put on display and sold. Yet at the same time, we’re looking for new and interesting products or services when we go online, and we may be open to new ideas when they’re presented to us. To me, that’s Facebook’s argument. You might view Apple as the guy who senses harassment and comes over to “protect” you.

To expand the transparency/privacy conversation, you have choices. You are able to use search engines and plug-ins that block unwanted ads while you browse the web and visit sites. Websites are fighting back by not allowing you access unless you unblock the ads on their site. You may not like the choices. You may not like sacrificing privacy for convenience or vice versa. But this is all part of the opt-in/opt-out battleground over who gets to profit from you.

If you have any questions about how to configure apps to meet your privacy or convenience needs, we can help. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for an appointment to walk you through the process.

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