• Beau Steward

Facebook vs Your Privacy

Facebook is currently fighting against Apple over a planned changed to iOS and iPadOS that makes giving access to a unique ID an opt-in rather than opt-out. Facebook argues this makes advertising impossible, and therefor sites that depend on ad revenue will fail.

First, let's take a look at what Apple is doing.

Each device has a unique identifier to aid in marketing. It's supposed to be an anonymized way to target advertising based on your behavior. Rather than tell advertisers who you are, they get something along the lines of "this person" so that there's at least some privacy. However, the security research community has proven that this is not enough. A person can be de-anonymized with some clever algorithms.

What Apple is doing is making it so a user has to opt-in to providing this identifier. Without it, advertisers can't target ads.

And that's the crux of it. It doesn't stop advertising, as Facebook claims. It stops targeted ads. It also stops data harvesting that can lead to breaking your privacy that this identifier was intended to protect.

Let's be clear: Facebook isn't a social network. It's not a communications platform. It's not a place for friends and family to share things. Facebook is a data company. If the product you are using is free, then that is not the product, you are. And Facebook makes money by selling your information. The more you use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Occulus, the more data you give Facebook to use against you.

Facebook is an advertising platform. One of its core products to businesses is the ability to target advertising using the data they harvest about you. Without this data, they cannot give you targeted ads. Facebook sells the eyes of its users of their "free" platforms.

Facebook wants you to know this hurts the internet. The truth is this only hurts companies like Facebook. When they say Apple's move breaks the "free" internet, they're not talking about internet freedom. They're talking about their ability to sell your data on their ad platform.

Facebook sells your eyes. Their goal is to target ads to you that you are more likely to click by building a behavior profile about you. Apple's move breaks their ability to target you.

Love or hate Apple, this is a move to protect their users.

But does it make it impossible for "free" sites to make ad revenue? The short answer is: no. Sites can still host ads on their pages. Businesses can still purchase ads. And here's the kicker: ads can still be contextual. And that last bit is still very valuable.

So, no, Facebook, Apple's change doesn't break the internet in any way. It makes it harder for you to harvest my data and use that against me. This isn't Apple vs Internet Freedom. This is Facebook vs My Privacy.

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©2020 by Beau Steward.