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Allow Spying: How Apple and Facebook Fight for Our Data

2020 will be remembered not only for the pandemic associated with the spread of the coronavirus, but also for the unprecedented number of fakes and conspiracy theories that emerged amid the crisis.

The largest IT corporations are faced with a number of claims from the US federal authorities, which will somehow affect them in the near future. In addition, the companies themselves have launched a real war with each other, justifying it by the protection of users’ personal data.

In addition to the Senate hearings on the possible monopolization of the market by the four largest Internet companies in America, which took place in the summer of 2020, Apple Corporation hit hard on its counterparts – Google and Facebook.

The fact is that the latest update of the iOS 14 operating system, which is already installed on 72% of smartphones, allows users to disable the collection of personal data inside applications. The new developer rules went into effect on December 8th. Facebook was the first to express its outrage.


  • In September 2020, Apple announced a new version of iOS 14, where one of the innovations was an updated privacy policy regarding the collection of personal data by third-party applications: starting from December 8, developers must ask users for permission to collect their personal data.
  • Shortly before the new privacy policy took effect, Facebook launched an information war against Apple, claiming the new rules would make it harder to place targeted ads on their platform and hit small business revenues.
  • Google, which in theory also suffered from the innovations, did not make public statements, however, as users noticed, the company’s popular applications were last updated the day before the new rules for developers came into force – on December 7.

A decade-long war

Apple’s updated privacy policy has unleashed another round of confrontation with Facebook, which has been going on for more than one year. The chain of feud between Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg can be traced back to 2014, when the Apple CEO criticized Facebook’s business model. It didn’t take long for an answer: in an interview with Time magazine, Mark Zuckerberg called Apple’s privacy concept “ridiculous.”

However, if before that the heads of the two corporations only exchanged “pleasantries”, now a real media battle is unfolding between the giants. In the summer of 2020, Facebook partially supported the Coalition for App Fairness and tried to insert a message into the iOS app that Apple was charging a 30% commission on in-app purchases. The App Store did not miss this update, and the company had to remove the notification.

The escalation of the conflict was led by an updated privacy policy that came into effect at the end of 2020. In mid-December, Facebook launched an advertising war against Apple, ordering advertisements in three of the largest American publications: The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal with the headline “We Are Against Apple for Small Business Around the World.”

According to Facebook, restrictions on the collection of personal data in iOS 14 will make it impossible for small businesses to create and order targeted ads on their platform, which will lead to a decrease in their sales and, accordingly, profits. According to the company, targeting on their platform can reduce the cost of promoting goods and services by up to 60% in comparison with non-personalized ones.

Apple, in turn, insists that they do not restrict the possibilities for advertising, and recalled Facebook of its disdain for users’ personal data.

Nevertheless, a number of experts note that Apple is being cunning in this matter. If you look at the template of a pop-up window that asks the user for permission to track his personal data, you will notice that the iOS developers have used the trick dark pattern… The Ask Application Do Not Track button is located above the Allow button. In addition, it looks much more massive, which intuitively pushes the user to choose this particular option.

Quiet response of the search giant

But Facebook isn’t alone in being hit by the new rules. Google, which owns the most popular search engine in the world, also fell under the restrictions of iOS 14. In addition to personalized search ads, developers of shareware applications that make money from displaying ads in them may also suffer in the future.

Google has not yet announced its updated privacy policy. However, users have noticed that the IT giant is in no rush to update its iOS apps.

Google’s 15 popular apps, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Drive, were last updated on or before December 7, just one day before the new App Store Publishing Policy went into effect.

The company probably took this step in order to avoid the inclusion of a pop-up window asking for permission to collect personal data. However, sooner or later, the company will still have to accept new rules of the game if it wants to support its users on the world’s second most popular mobile OS.

And what about Apple?

The Cupertino company is moving step by step towards its Privacy First concept, stating privacy as a key value. Apple, just like its peers, has a huge amount of data about its users. Algorithms in Apple + and Music select relevant content based on data, Cloud stores terabytes of photos, and Apple Pay tracks every transaction.

The company does not make any profit from the activities of Facebook and Google, which provide services to users, at most for free. The main source of income from iOS is purchases and microtransactions in the App Store, which, by the way, deduct Apple 30% of the commission from each operation, and in 2020 brought the company $ 64 billion. Therefore, the company is more focused on popularizing a culture of subscriptions to everything: music, movies, podcasts, magazines and games.

On the one hand, companies publicly declare that they care about their users. However, in reality, they are only interested in their own income. And what the enmity of the giants will lead to is unknown. Only one thing is clear – no one is going to give in. As a result, each party will find new ways to collect user data, thanks to which corporations make billions.

And the proceedings with the authorities have just begun. And as Microsoft’s experience shows, it can drag on for more than one year and lead to absolutely unpredictable consequences.

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Fidenge Pecold

My profession is a journalist, but my hobby for 8 years has been studying Forex investing and trading. During this time, I managed to gain extensive experience in investing and trading cryptocurrencies and double my capital in the Forex market. To be the author of this magazine, the site owners invited me to participate in one of the 2020 trading webinars, and I will try to reveal the most relevant crypto market news for you.

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