Apple is about to strike Facebook with a major blow that will hit the data-hungry social network’s revenues and could force it to change its ways. That’s because in September this year, Apple will launch its iOS 15 operating system update, bringing with it multiple new iPhone features.
Among these are privacy reports, which will show you how often apps access your iPhone’s camera and contacts, as well as highlighting which third party domains you are contacting and when. In iOS 15, Apple is also introducing features that will help to put a stop to email tracking on your iPhone. The iPhone maker is also enhancing its Safari browser with privacy controls such as its iCloud+ Private Relay.
It comes after Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5 at the end of April. The new iPhone feature hurts the likes of Facebook by making tracking across apps and websites opt-in only.
The iPhone tracking impacted by the change takes place through something called the identifier for advertisers (IDFA)—a unique code that allows companies such as Facebook and its advertisers to see which ads you’ve interacted with and when. But when users deny tracking on their iPhones, the app developer can no longer track them because instead of the IDFA, they will simply receive a string of zeros.
And as predicted, iOS 14.5’s ATT has already hurt Facebook and its advertisers. In fact, the latest figures from Branch, which analyses mobile app growth, show that 75% of iPhone users are opting out of being tracked across their iPhones.
Facebook has been complaining about Apple’s iPhone privacy change since well before its launch, even taking out full newspaper adverts to protest. But last week, Facebook surprised everyone by reporting second quarter results that saw the social network performing well beyond expectations with a 56% revenue increase to $29 billion. So what’s going on?
A few things are at play, but in a nutshell, Apple didn’t introduce ATT until iOS 14.5 launched at the end of April, and while these results are for Facebook’s quarter two, the tracking changes wouldn’t have started to make an impact.
This is because many app developers were slow to implement it, so the “Ask App Not to Track” prompts are only just appearing for many iPhone users now. Facebook will be affected even more when Apple launches its new iPhone features in iOS 15 in September, which build further on ATT. The real change will happen in Facebook’s third and fourth quarters.
Facebook acknowledges this and says in its outlook: “We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, which we expect to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.”
There’s no doubt Apple’s iOS 14 privacy features and the iOS 15 changes to come are drastically changing the market. We can only hope that the ad industry responds positively, with methods that are less privacy infringing than previous tactics.
And although the privacy community including myself have been feeling very positive towards Apple’s stance, the iPhone maker’s latest move to potentially allow access to iCloud and iMessage photos is also a big concern.

Kate is an award winning and widely-recognized cybersecurity and privacy journalist with well over a decade’s experience covering the issues that matter to users,

Kate is an award winning and widely-recognized cybersecurity and privacy journalist with well over a decade’s experience covering the issues that matter to users, businesses and governments. In addition to Forbes, her work can be found in publications including Wired, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times and The Economist. 
With a focus on smartphone security including Apple iOS security and privacy, application security, cyberwarfare and data misuse by the big tech firms, Kate reports and analyzes breaking cybersecurity and privacy stories and trending topics. A co-founder of the Forbes Straight Talking Cyber video project, which has been named ‘Most Educational Content’ at the 2021 European Cybersecurity Blogger Awards, she is also a recognized industry commentator and has appeared on radio shows including the WVON Morning Show with Attorney Ernest B. Fenton, BBC Radio 5 Live and podcasts such as the Guardian’s Today in Focus. Kate can be reached at kate.oflaherty@techjournalist.co.uk.

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Por redditxxx