Facebook has been fighting long and hard against the privacy features heading Apple's upcoming iOS 14 update. With iOS 14.5 (set to be released sometime this month), Apple promises a new App Tracking Transparency
feature, which will require all apps to request explicit user permission before they can start tracking data for targeted advertising. All iPhones and iPads from Apple come with a factory-assigned unique IDFA number (Identifier For Advertisers) which, as the name tells, allows advertisers to track and identify their user.
Afer the update, Apple promises, users will have complete control over who can access their IDFA and track their activity and data. Of course, that doesn't mean they'll always have full use of an app before consenting to data collection, but it does provide a significantly better sense of security. Some social media platforms like Twitter
have been taking this change in stride, looking at how they could make the best of it and planning to wait a while before putting the data collection question to users.
Facebook has been none too happy about the privacy change, however, and has been running a video ad campaign in protest called Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found
. The case Facebook is trying to make is that such a move on Apple's part will prove a disastrous blow to small businesses around the nation, which heavily rely on targeted marketing to find customers. The campaign appears to be flopping hard, having gained a 15-1 dislike ratio on Youtube so far. And now, former Facebook employees are calling Facebook's bluff, dismantling the argument that small business will actually be affected. Henry Love used to be part of Facebook's small business team, and he says that
startups are likely to use broader categories such as age range or a distance radius to build their clientele.
If you talked to any restaurant owner anywhere and asked them what IDFA is, I don’t think any of them would know what that is. It’s affecting Facebook at scale, not the small business owners.
Love elaborates that the startups who might feel the effects of the IDFA change are "backed by venture capital money who have hired professionals with the skills to target users with sniper precision." He says that the only companies using Facebook Audience Network and targeting their audience through mobile and web cannot be classified as small businesses. “They’re sophisticated, VC-backed startups. They’re not your typical SMB.”
Love supposes that Facebook's ad campaign and its appeal to empathy for small businesses stems from a desire to rebuild their reputation after the 2018 scandal (and multiple ones to follow), in which 87 million Facebook users' data was discovered to have been improperly used for ad targeting in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. This opportunity to take the moral high ground may win back the favor of least one portion of Facebook's audience, it seems—as long as that portion will bite.