Facebook gives users a new message to consider before seeing Apple’s privacy prompt

Facebook has bucked under Apple’s new constraints, as the company thinks that the restrictions will make it impossible to build personalized services and open the ecosystem to third parties that also want build services. Facebook says that it will hurt millions of small businesses.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been in a heated war of words, and possible litigation, over the competing visions of the internet. Apple has made a number of changes to its device software and Safari web browser to limit internet tracking. Last year, Apple put out privacy “nutrition labels� in the App Store, which showed more clearly all the ways any given app requests user data including location, web browsing, photos, microphone access and more. The transparency move spooked developers who worried that the stark reminders about tracking would turn off consumers.

They were right. This year, Facebook tried to notify users of WhatsApp, its global messaging app, of a newly worded privacy policy. Facebook later adjusted its messaging on the update, saying it caused confusion, and people misread its intention. Facebook said the privacy changed how data was shared with businesses that consumers choose to engage on WhatsApp and did not affect personal messages. Still, just alerting consumers to the privacy update, sent people running to download competing private messaging apps, and Facebook postponed the rollout of the change.

Developers of all stripes fear similar reactions when consumers start seeing Apple’s new privacy notice, which will ask users to consent to sharing data with the apps. Last month, Bumble, the dating app, filed for an initial public offering and warned potential investors that new privacy rules from Apple could turn off consumers. Bumble warned the opt-in rate, the number of users who consent to tracking, could reach only 20%, and possibly 0%.

Those concerns are why Facebook is trying to craft its own message to convince its users of the benefits of its programs. Apple has said it would work with developers in ways that allow them to present their value to users, which could help drive up the opt-in rates.

If consumers block tracking en masse, it will change how ads are able to be targeted effectively and how advertisers measure the performance of ads. The entire industry is concerned about the disruption. At the same time, there is a privacy movement underway, where consumers and lawmakers are demanding more accountability over how data is protected online.

Apple has not given too much guidance, though, on its rules for customized messages, like the one Facebook unveiled on Monday. But Facebook clearly thinks it falls within Apple’s guidelines. “We feel that people deserve the additional context, and Apple has said that providing education is allowed,� Facebook said.

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