Facebook stops collecting iPhone app data for ads

Jan 26, 2021 | Facebook marketing, Regulation, Social

Facebook will stop requiring iPhone app makers
Facebook will stop requiring iPhone app makers to feed the company their users’ personal data for advertising as it braces for a new privacy crackdown by Apple that could cut its revenue by billions of dollars.

Facebook will stop requiring iPhone app makers to feed the company their users’ personal data for advertising as it braces for a new privacy crackdown by Apple that could cut its revenue by billions of dollars.

Last week, Facebook told app developers that they can now let users log in via their Facebook accounts without that information being used to target them with promotions.

Previously, the social network has used its login system, which is integrated into thousands of other apps, to harvest data on people’s smartphone habits, letting it track the same users across multiple services and pitch adverts to users of specific apps.

However, those practices are thretened by an upcoming iPhone update that will force apps to show their users an aggressive consent pop-up before sharing their data with advertising companies, including Facebook.

The challenge of ‘rebuilding trust’

Facebook’s claim that it will stop using personal data from iPhone apps for advertising looks positive on the surface but raises many doubts. Is the social media giant actually able to control that, and can we trust such a statement, considering its history?

Ben van Enckevort, CTO and Co-founder at data privacy startup Metomic, said: “Facebook’s claim that it will stop using personal data from iPhone apps for advertising raises doubt. On the surface, this seems like a positive step towards a privacy-first culture. However, typically, once data is inside an organisation, the ability to keep track of where it is and how it’s being used by teams is lost. Ideally, all businesses – especially of a large scale – should have full visibility over their data privacy. To be on top of its new commitment, Facebook must have mechanisms in place to ensure it knows how its entire data lifecycle is being used and by whom at all times. Only with complete control can companies like Facebook keep their promise to use sensitive data in the way their customers have sanctioned. This will be crucial for rebuilding and maintaining customer trust – something the social media giant knows is hard to earn, but very easy to lose.”

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