Facebook has expressed additional criticism towards Apple over an upcoming iOS 14 privacy measure that will require users to grant permission for their activity to be tracked for personalized advertising purposes.
“Opt in tracking will make the internet worse.” Probably! At least in the short run.
The argument goes that most people have no choice, and are thus automatically opted in to “personalized ads” via fairly invasive tracking. Since all of this tracking is hidden from the users view (except the ultimate personalized ad), it’s less objectionable and we all carry on living in a world of reduced privacy but free online content. Give folks a choice – would you like Facebook to track you? – and suddenly that equation changes. Most people will say “no, don’t track me!” We think.
Short term, this results in a revenue hit for the ad industry. Personalized ads are worth more because if I show you an ad about something we know you’re interested in there is a greater likelihood you will click it. Less revenue for Facebook, less revenue for a website or app showing you those ads. We also assume most companies would want to replace that lost revenue somehow; perhaps that free website ads a subscription tier, and perhaps that free app ads an upfront charge or in-app purchase. Got to pay the bills!
Long term… who knows? Once many ad-funded business models die out what replaces them? It could be something worse. It could be something better. Facebook’s argument here is based in that fear and uncertainty of the unknown future outcomes. Given that Facebook is really good (and making tons of cash) from the status quo, you could understand why they’re adamantly against changing things.
A take I enjoyed from John Gruber at Daring Fireball:
Facebook’s argument is along the lines of arguing that the police shouldn’t crack down on burglaries because doing so might hurt pawn shops that have been thriving during a years-long crime spree.