Facebook & Instagram notices in iOS apps tell users tracking helps keep them ‘free of charge’

Facebook free ios

Facebook has added a note within its iOS app reminding users that the details it gathers from other applications and websites will “help keep Facebook free of charge,” in response to Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes. On Instagram’s iOS app, a similar statement was seen. 

According to a blog post by Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president for ads and business items, the alerts are referred to as “educational screens,” and they include “more information on how we use data for targeted ads.”  

“In order to improve your advertising, we need to ask for permission to monitor some data from this system in this version of iOS. If you don’t turn on this device setting, learn how we restrict the use of this information,” the screen says. “We use information about your behaviour from other apps and websites to: show you more targeted advertising, support companies who rely on ads to reach their customers, and help keep Facebook free.” 

The new opt-in specifications in iOS 14, including iOS 14.5, enable developers to obtain explicit permission from device owners to share and collect their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) through applications. Even if a user opts out of letting the app monitor them, app developers can still use other information they have for targeted ads under Apple’s new policy, but that information can’t be shared with another company for ad tracking. 

If developers attempt to circumvent the opt-in provision by replacing the IDFA with another piece of identifying information, such as an email address, the software would be deemed non-compliant. The laws extend to Apple’s own applications as well. 

Facebook has been a vocal opponent of Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates, claiming that the changes would harm small businesses that rely on Facebook’s ad network to reach consumers. Facebook has said in press releases and newspaper advertisements that Apple is promoting new business models for apps that rely less on advertisement and more on subscriptions, which might give Apple a cut. 

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