Facebook is rolling out a warning to “educate” users on how the company uses certain data to keep its own platform and photo-sharing app Instagram “free of charge.” The new prompt reportedly appeared on the latest version of Facebook and Instagram app for iPhones, days after Apple rolled out the iOS 14.5, which carries the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy feature to provide users with more control over their data. Facebook has been critical of the update since its announcement last year and claims that the ATT is anti-competitive and can hurt several small businesses that rely on targeted ads for growth. Apple maintains its new privacy feature is not meant to hurt anyone but aims to give users a choice over what they want to share. Apple’s ATT does allow users to opt for targeted ads if they wish to. However, the company also says that apps providing rewards from opting out of ATT will be banned from the Apple App Store.
The new prompt on Facebook and Instagram was noticed by technology researcher Ashkan Soltani and the social media giant had first shared this development back in December 2020. Facebook calls the prompt an ‘educational screen’ that reads, “This version of iOS requires us to ask for permission to track some data from these devices to improve your ads. Learn how we limit the use of this information if you don’t turn on this device setting.” Facebook further explains that users’ data is collected to show personalised ads, support small businesses, and more importantly to keep its platforms “free of charge.”
In the old blog post, it added, “Apple’s new prompt suggests there is a tradeoff between personalised advertising and privacy; when in fact, we can and do provide both. The Apple prompt also provides no context about the benefits of personalised ads.” Facebook says that the company is showing its own prompts (or educational screen) to let users learn the other side of the story. Facebook said users agreeing to these prompts does not result in the company “collecting new types of data.” Meanwhile, some reports suggest that this could also mean the platform might bring a paywall model in future. The details regarding this remain unclear and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had also highlighted previously that there will always be a free version of Facebook.