Zuckerberg changes stance on Apple's upcoming privacy feature - The UpStream

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Zuckerberg changes stance on Apple's upcoming privacy feature

posted Saturday Mar 20, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Zuckerberg changes stance on Apple's upcoming privacy feature

Ever since Apple announced that iOS 14 would eventually add a new feature called App Tracking Transparency (ATT), Facebook has fought the change. The feature allows users to deny an app's request to track their behavior on and off of the app. Facebook, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in particular, have argued that the feature will be bad for Facebook and its users, since day 1.

This week, Zuckerberg changed his tune somewhat, focusing on what this will do for the company. During a session on the social conference call platform Clubhouse, Zuckerberg said,

The reality is that I'm confident that we're gonna be able to manage through that situation well and we'll be in a good position. I think it's possible that we may even be in a stronger position if Apple's changes encourage more businesses to conduct commerce on our platforms.

While the previous argument was that Facebook was being targeted specifically with the feature and that it would significantly harm the company's business, now they believe (or Zuckerberg is saying) that the end result will be more users being driven to the Facebook apps directly. It's an interesting argument, believing that more users will go to Facebook and Instagram because the apps are not tracking their web behavior anymore.

On the other hand, the argument that ATT could harm small developers is a decent argument. Many small developers rely on highly targeted ads for the bulk of their revenue. Individuals creating projects or early-stage apps are only possible because of these ads. With less targeted ads comes less revenue for the apps. This could, potentially, lead to fewer free, ad-supported apps, and more 99 cent apps showing up in the App Store.

On the other hand, it's not as if all users are going to go into privacy mode. Many users will continue with business as usual, allowing the apps and platforms to do as they please. Only time will tell if Facebook has a point, or if Apple's move will be better for the little guy.

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