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In ‘Privacy vs Business’ war with Apple, Facebook faces criticism from within

By Nadeem Sarwar December 23, 2020, 5:03 pm
Facebook apple feud pocketnow

Facebook’s war against Apple is a hot topic of discussion in the tech and social media universe right now. The reason behind all this bickering? Apple introduced new privacy guidelines in iOS 14 that allows users to opt out of ad-tracking, something that is at the core of Facebook’s targeted ad business. And oh, Apple also made Facebook – and every other developer – to disclose what data their apps collect, how it is used, etc. in an easy to understand fashion, and right on the App Store listing page itself. Facebook was not happy with the changes. Naturally, some acidic back-and-forth happened between the two giants and each one took a side – Apple called itself the bastion of privacy and Facebook presented itself as the champion of small businesses.

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A kerfuffle with privacy and business at opposite ends

However, the social media giant is facing some intense criticism from within its own camp. In the wake of publishing full-page newspaper ads criticizing Apple and creating a platform called Small businesses deserve to be heard, Facebook has elicited some disapproval from within its own employee circle. As per internal comments on Facebook’s private message boards and presentations that were accessed by BuzzFeed News, many employees are questioning the pro-business approach taken by Facebook in its tussle with Apple. 

“It feels like we are trying to justify doing a bad thing by hiding behind people with a sympathetic message.”

“It feels like we are trying to justify doing a bad thing by hiding behind people with a sympathetic message,” wrote an employee in Facebook’s engineering division. “Aren’t we worried that our stance protecting [small- and medium-sized businesses] will backfire as people see it as ‘FB protecting their own business’ instead?” questioned another Facebook employee. 

READ MORE: Apple fires back at Facebook for attacking app privacy labels, warns of taking down apps

But it was not just business, but Facebook’s seemingly confrontational stance against privacy was also something that faced denunciation from employees. “People want ‘privacy. FB objecting here will be viewed with cynicism. Did we know this would be bad PR, & decide to publish anyway?” read another comment. To recall, Apple recently targeted Facebook over the controversy and mentioned that the social media giant only has to offer its users a choice.

“We’re not going to… be the only ones that should be allowed to track people without their consent — any company can do that, even smaller startups and malicious actors.”

“We’re not going to… be the only ones that should be allowed to track people without their consent — any company can do that, even smaller startups and malicious actors,” noted another Facebook employee. Facebook’s VP of Ads & Business Platform, Dan Levy, defended Facebook’s approach, explaining that the whole campaign was not about its own business model.

READ MORE: FTC sues Facebook over monopolistic conduct, seeks to undo WhatsApp and Instagram deals

“That’s Apple’s marketing working and convincing you to scapegoat us so they can decide how the internet should work — even beyond their devices,” said the Facebook executive. “I’m an optimist who works in technology because I think tech can be a lever for democratizing access and giving opportunity. Including for businesses. And if you think this is going to stop with personalized ads . . . well, then I disagree.”

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