back to article In wake of Apple privacy controls, Facebook mulls just begging its iOS app users to let it track them over the web

Facebook has created a new screen in its iOS app that will urge people to allow it to continue stalking their online activities for targeted advertising. This is in response to Apple preparing to introduce a prompt that asks users whether or not they want to grant Facebook's software permission to track them when they use …

  1. needmorehare
    Thumb Up

    Just remember....

    We have always been able to disable IDFA globally. Facebook are only shitting themselves because even the lazy will be protected

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Just remember....

      Is this the same as the iOS Advertising Identifier that you used to be able to reset manually? This may have gone in iOS 13/14, but I always used to do it at least monthly.

      If that was re-exposed to Shortcuts then it would be simple to reset it periodically, or of course Apple could create a built-in setting to automate this.

      1. Tessier-Ashpool

        Re: Just remember....

        Just turn off Personalised Ads in Privacy settings. Nothing to reset, as no identifier is sent.

  2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Flame

    If permission is granted, Facebook's app can access what Apple calls its Identifier for Advertisers – a unique per-user ID that can be used to identify and track you from app to app and website to website on iOS, allowing the antisocial network to build up an idea of your interests so it can target you with ads tailored for you

    How can anyone read that, and think "that's good". If the governments attempted that... (well, if they admitted they did that), there would rightly be a privacy outcry.

    Do they seriously believe they are providing a service?

    "Agreeing to these prompts doesn’t result in Facebook collecting new types of data," Team FB noted. "It just means that we can continue to give people better experiences.

    I mean, seriously, imagine a cold-caller asking for the same access, so they can tailor their cold-calling for peoples "better experiences".

    I think these people are so stuck in their bubble, they actually believe they are providing some good to the world, and have some god given right to invade everyone privacy.

    "Facebook insisted in a statement. “The Apple prompt also provides no context about the benefits of personalized ads.”

    And that would be because.....

    1. onemark03

      these people actually believe they are providing some good to the world

      Don't you believe it, sunshine!

      It's about revenue and nothing else. That rubbish about customer experience is dissimulation. But you probably suspected that, right?

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: It's about revenue and nothing else

        Yep... Poor Zuck will soon be down to his last $10B while millions of Americans can't put food on the table.

        For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests.

        I'm eagerly waiting for Zuck to sue Apple over this... after all pretty well every other company has already filed suit against Tim Apple's biz and they won't want to be left out now will they?

        Zuck can go suck on this --> see icon

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

          No, it's still Apple own corporate interest, but as a side effect it gives users some more privacy.

          Here the issue is Apple doesn't like anybody profits from its platform without paying the Apple tax.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

            Here the issue is Apple doesn't like anybody profits from its platform without paying the Apple tax.

            This is unduly cynical. Where Apple benefits is that it’s realised that there’s gold in them thar hills of privacy, because some people really care about not leaking their data willy-nilly, and the majority of those people aren’t savvy enough to roll their own Linux or get a custom Android build device. People will pay for that - and that’s where Apple benefits.

            If someone profits from the device in a way that doesn’t impact privacy, for example in non-tracking adverts, then Apple won’t stop them and it won’t require them to pay the imaginary Apple Tax.

            It’s worth noting, by the way, that my business has received more money from Apple sales than it has from Android, Linux or Windows sales - and it’s also worth noting that I’ve paid out more to Microsoft in OS updates and IDEs than I have to Apple in developer fees (note that the Apple toolchain of OS and IDE is free) - so the Apple Tax is, at least from my perspective, a myth.

            1. LDS Silver badge
              Facepalm

              "This is unduly cynical."

              But sadly true.

              Don't believe Apple doesn't sell its own targeted services. Just you'll have to pay Apple for that, not Facebook. Of course Apple has to be careful not to incur in antitrust violation, as it's already under scrutiny.

              About the "imaginary" Apple tax, what's the 30% cut on every kind of sale that can be done only through its mandatory store? Apple is not a charity, and it has showed more and more times it will do anything to protect and increase its revenue streams. Nothing is done just to benefit its customers.

              As written before, the user will see some benefits - but don't believe Apple made it because of its golden heart - it's not the type of gold Apple likes to store in some offshore bank.

              1. 45RPM Silver badge

                Re: "This is unduly cynical."

                No doubt. I’d like to pay less than 30%. But the fact remains that Apple has paid significantly more into my account that Google or Microsoft. Google tax me on my privacy (and also charge me for my developer account). Microsoft charge me for the OS and tool chain. Apple take 15% to 30% depending on your revenue. Everyone pays a tax - it’s just a question of where you prefer to be charged.

            2. noboard

              Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

              "People buy apple because they are concerned about their privacy". That's a hill I would not want to die on.

              Facebook have put this notice in to distract people from the apple notification. Here's some junk Facebook stuff to make you zone out and then you click the apple confirmation without reading/thinking about it. Facebook will lose some data from this move, but not a massive amount.

              1. 45RPM Silver badge

                Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

                You missed the ‘some’ - and that critically changes the meaning of the sentence. I’ll bet that the majority buy for a fatuous reason like Fashion. Enough buy for reasons of privacy to make it a worthwhile business model.

                Now you might cynically doubt that Apple is really really private. You might think that Apple is merrily slurping data with the best of them. It’s been said before. But before you make such claims think - can I cite credible evidence or is this just gut feeling? If the latter, don’t say it. If the former then where’s your evidence?

                1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                  Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

                  I bought partly for the look - my iMac has a smaller desktop footprint than a PC, the quality of the screen (I am 'getting on a bit' as it were and the better the screen the easier it is for me to focus on), partly because it works, partly because I have a friend who gets me a 17% 'Family and Friends' discount, and also because I really detest the Microsoft attitude to Windows updates that drove my mother, at the age of 84, to buy a new computer she would have to learn how to use, just because it would avoid interminable Windows updates she could not avoid. Plus as I do not update my main computer until the updates no longer work and I cannot access the main news and other websites, it does not turn out to be that much more expensive.

                  OK, not everyone has a friend who gets you the discount. I probably am a mug, I suppose.

                  1. 45RPM Silver badge

                    Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

                    I don’t understand the partisanship here. It’s like when I was young, the tribal wars between C64 owners and Speccy owners. Or, later, the wars between Amiga vs. ST. If it works for your use-case then you bought the right thing. You aren’t a mug. You’d be a mug if you listened to someone else calling you a mug and then bought a device (phone, car, computer, kettle, whatever) which suited their use-case rather than yours.

                    It’s not a case that Apple or Microsoft or Google or Canonical or Facebook* or whoever are bad and whichever your favourite company is is good. It’s a case that all are different, all have their merits, and we should think critically before deciding and then buy the device(s) that work for us.

                    Sorry. This partisanship really gets on my tits. It’s the same with politics. It’s so playground. It’s so childish. And, since we are supposedly adults, and we work in IT (therefore, I assume, we’re all qualified and intelligent), we should be better than this.

                    * Okay. So I think Facebook is bad. So perhaps not all are good. I also have an objection to Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Arms dealers etc. But generally speaking in the field of IT providers, I think that my point is valid.

                    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                      Re: "For once, Apple is on the side of the individual and not corporate interests."

                      45RPM "Okay. So I think Facebook is bad. So perhaps not all are good. I also have an objection to Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Arms dealers etc. But generally speaking in the field of IT providers, I think that my point is valid."

                      Facebook is of itself not particularly a bad idea. It took over from sites like 'Friends reunited'. It is the business model that is problematic. If there was a secure version where personal data was not sold, but you had to pay a small fee for use, maybe it would not be so attractive. It is just that people want to get stuff for free. The providers have to pay for it and their own salaries somehow, and Facebook has decided to optimise and maximise its revenue wherever possible, as has Google. I'm not saying that Facebook, Google, etc. are wholly good or wholly bad, just that, well, 'it's complicated'.

                      Now:

                      \begin{RANT}

                      Big Oil> When Clair Cameron Patterson ('Pat' to his friends) discovered that humans had polluted the entire surface of the Earth with lead, primarily by the combustion of tetraethyl lead in internal combustion engines, 'Big Oil' did everything they could to prevent lead being banned from petrol / gasoline. They sent people to 'persuade' hm to withdraw his papers. They told his university they would withdraw funding if he published his results. Thomas Midgley* who was warned by his doctor that he was suffering from lead poisoning due to literally handling leaded petrol, went on TV, rinsed his hands in leaded fuel and said that he was not taking any risk. Fortunately 'Pat' did not give in as at the time, people had 500 times the amount of lead in their bodies as someone who lived 7000 years ago (before we started smelting metals). You only need 2000 times the amount of 7000 years ago to suffer form severe lead poisoning. And, of course lead is a neuro-toxin.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clair_Cameron_Patterson

                      Big Tobacco> Copied Big Oil's practice of denigrating opponents' statements regarding science, paying 'scientists' to dispute findings, concentrate on the error margin rather than the actual results concerning lung cancer, heart disease etc. caused by tobacco smoking, and passive smoking, and of course damage to the foetus caused by smoking during pregnancy, even though their own research had shown that smoking tobacco seriously damaged people's health they would claim that as it was only a probability that you would be 'more likely' to get cancer, die etc. that the scientists should allow people to make the choice etc. (Note I am an interested party here as asthmatic, I have real trouble with breathing on other people's smoke.)

                      They are being copied by the climate change deniers, although hopefully science will prevail on that before it is too late to save civilisation (fingers crossed on that one).

                      *Thomas Midgley, also responsible for chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration units, that when released into the atmosphere damage the Ozone layer which protects us form lethal UV rays.

                      https://interestingengineering.com/thomas-midgley-jr-the-man-who-harmed-the-world-the-most

                      \end{RANT}

                      and B R E A T H E (hopefully a tobacco and lead free atmosphere)

                      :o)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's about revenue and nothing else

          @ Steve Davies 3

          What do you mean "for once"?

  3. mikus

    Hey, it would be great if you just let us backdoor your app!

    Usually some telemetry channel like that is either endorsed by the owner, usually an enterprise, or a backdoor rootkit of some kind. Fakebook looking to legitimize a separate command and control telemetry feed to keep marketing drones satisfied is pretty ballsy. Of course, Microsoft legitimized it first, so why not.

  4. Blackjack Silver badge

    Please help me I am just a struggling small business

    Says Facebook as their nose grows and grows.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better but still weak

    Apple should simply prohibit this app. Why? It wants to show the "allow" button in bright clear blue and the "don't allow" button in very quiet grey. If Apple were serious about privacy, they would add this kind of dark pattern crap to their arbitrarily (mis-)applied walled garden rules. The rule can be expressed very simply: if something results in sending more of the owner's information off the device than doing nothing or choosing any of the other options, the button, box, etc. to choose that can be no more prominent than the UI element for not doing that. Apple's additional dialogue box has this attribute, but they should just go ahead and require it for all apps. If you're going to have a list of hundreds of rules (the first and most holy of which is that Apple shall have its 30%), this one ought to be included.

    1. sev.monster
      Happy

      Re: Better but still weak

      And so the walled garden stonewalls out the merchants that sell behind its very walls, by royal decree!

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    the benefits of personalized ads

    Cui bono?

    I mean, really, does the user *really* benefit from an advert? This brave new world of the internet, all based on a funding model intended to sell soap eighty years ago? Can't we come up with something better?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: does the user *really* benefit from an advert?

      They never said it is the user who benefits. They tend to be very careful not to say that.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: does the user *really* benefit from an advert?

        The user is Facebook, which benefits from selling target ads. You're the product to be sold, remember.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: the benefits of personalized ads

      Likely the reverse. The likes of Facebook have taken advertising revenue that otherwise would have gone to local newspaper's online editions, but Facebook et al have refused to take on the responsibilities of a news publisher (journalistic standards, right of redress, fact checking etc).

      So, if less targeted advertisements on Facebook make Facebook a less attractive place to advertise, one assumes that some advertiser's will spend a bit of their advertising budget elsewhere (including local news outlets).

      i.e depriving Facebook of power probably helps more small businesses than it harms, and helps local democracy (you can't make a meaningful choice about councilors if you don't know their policies and local issues) into the bargain.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: the benefits of personalized ads

        I mean, if I'm reading EastCheamGazette.com then the chances are that I live in or near East Cheam, and therefore the adverts for East Cheam Skip Hire or East Cheam Hairdressers won't be wasted on me.

        The wonderful thing is, the East Cheam Gazette doesn't have to know a single thing about me in order to serve 'targetted' advertising. Just as a Guitar Player Weekly doesn't need to know anything about me in order for Fender to buy advertising space from them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the benefits of personalized ads

          Or if I live in the East Midlands, am over 50 and follow the Daily Mail, I'm probably ripe for some dog-whistle racist advertising about leaving the EU?

  7. NATTtrash Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    "...a unique per-user ID..."

    If permission is granted, Facebook's app can access what Apple calls its Identifier for Advertisers – a unique per-user ID that can be used to identify and track you from app to app and website to website on iOS...

    Am I outing myself too much as somebody with a "geriatric privacy perception" if I don't see the "protection" of Apple as a solution? Whatever happened with those red phone booths at the corner of the street?

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

      I believe that as mentioned in the comments above, you can disable the Advertising ID on iOS.

      As to why it is on by default, that's another discussion.....

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

        >As to why it is on by default, that's another discussion.....

        And as to why it isn't being randomised, like Apple's does with MAC addresses...

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

        Read the article. It's currently ON by default. Changing to OFF by default.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

      NATTrash: "Whatever happened with those red phone booths at the corner of the street?"

      People stopped using them, so now you can buy your own:

      https://www.x2connect.com/RedPhonebox/red%20phone%20box

      A snip at £2250 :o)

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

      > Whatever happened with those red phone booths at the corner of the street?

      These days they tend to contain either a defibrillator, or else some books.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: "...a unique per-user ID..."

        The one on the main road near where I live in Reading was emptied, and then taken away (don't know by whom).

  8. Danny 5

    Shameless

    I have actually deleted the facebook and messenger apps from my phone, this whole saga was just one too many for me. The utter shamelessness with which fb is complaining about Apple being unfair and how fb holds our privacy in the highest respect just makes my skin crawl, it had to go.

    I'm still on Android, which is a massive info hoover of its own, I hope they will follow Apple's example in this though. I don't mind my data being collected persé, but it should be my choice and not enforced, it's that simple. (I have a Nokia 8 btw, I have a bit more faith in the completely stripped down version of Android).

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Shameless

      > I'm still on Android, which is a massive info hoover of its own, I hope they will follow Apple's example in this though

      Well, Google's business model is built around advertising. Apple's is built around hardware sales and paid-for services. You pays yer money and takes yer choice. You don't pay yer money, and yer choice looks more limited.

      (You can of course substitute time and learning for money)

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Shameless

      I have actually deleted the facebook and messenger apps from my phone, this whole saga was just one too many for me.

      Don't forget the zillions of third-party apps that have the Facebook SDK (plus other "analytics" and adtech tracker SDKs) embedded.

      I have caught numerous apps -- including "ad-free" premium versions that I paid money for -- phoning home to FB, Google, and others at every launch and constantly during use. This includes apps that have no login or account functionality, so it's not due to the presence of "sign in with $SOCIAL_PARASITE."

      1. Danny 5

        Re: Shameless

        I have a seperate gamer facebook account for that, it's sole purpopse is to log in to facebook so my game progress is saved. I never connected those to my personal facebook account to begin with.

    3. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: Shameless

      And honestly, fuck Samsung and their inability to delete Facebook (unless they've recently changed this?).

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Shameless

        I deleted it from my Galaxy S8 a couple of weeks ago, and AFAIK, it's gone. I got tired of FB's crap (and all the crap on FB), so deleted my FB account I've had for 13+ years, then deleted the app from my phone. And deleted any cookies on my laptop that even remotely looked like they'd come from Facebook. It's shameful how much time I was wasting each day on that crap site. Now I've got loads of free time again, and not a bunch of garbage infiltrating my peace. El Reg's comment section is now the closest I get to "social networking".

  9. Ashto5

    There is no choice

    This is just another illusion out forward by the bug tech privacy advocates

    It is just white wash, apple will give you the option to not be tracked by anyone other than apple

    Come on ....

    Just be honest apple and state

    “ we will milk you for all we can get, and we will milk anyone using our equipment “

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: There is no choice

      And how exactly does Apple monetise this supposed FB-level data slurp of theirs? Remember, they are doing very nicely from selling hardware and services, differentiated from competitors in part by their privacy policies.

      Your chief logical fallacy is 'false equivalence', with touches of letting best be the enemy of good.

  10. John70

    "Ask app not to track"?

    That seems to imply that the app can still track you if it wants. After all you're just "asking" not demanding.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "Ask app not to track"?

      No doubt zuckertwat will get his minions to do all they can to bypass this, so we can prevent them using the ID, and tell them not to track - but it's actually relatively difficult to ensure that there are no technical loopholes that FB could possible use.

      That's why Apple don't say they'll absolutely stop it - because there is always a technical way to manage it...

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: "Ask app not to track"?

      Apps caught tracking after users decline can be removed from the app store.

  11. Archivist

    My heat bleeds

    Poor Facebook....

  12. werdsmith Silver badge

    Delete your Faecebook account. Don’t look back. Don’t come up with lame excuses why you need it, that’s a lazy cop-out when ethically this problem needs to be tackled. Start from the the top, the most malignant and noxious of them all, bin it forever.

    1. skswales

      Pollute your Faecesbook account with inaccurate information first. You don't think it will actually be deleted, do you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Pollute your Faecesbook account

        yep. you could start with

        Zuck is the controller of the Space Laser that was used to start the wildfires in California and the FB is where all those Satanic worshipers in DC who drink the blood of children hang out and swap tips on blood letting.

        {I am joking ok.}

        1. Graham Lockley

          Re: re: Pollute your Faecesbook account

          Ahh, a fellow Natural News reader ! Brighteon is my main news source these days :)

        2. LDS Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: re: Pollute your Faecesbook account

          I'm afraid FB has in place already all that is needed to delete quickly anything about "Zuck", just in case....

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: re: Pollute your Faecesbook account

            If hey can do that for Zuckerberg, why cannot they do it for MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis, who has had to sue them to remove scam postings about investments bearing his name and photo?

            https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2019/01/martin-lewis-drops-lawsuit-as-facebook-agreed-to-donate-p3m-to-a/

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > Pollute your Faecesbook account with inaccurate information first

        The metadata - your network of contacts - is likely of more value to Facebook than false data about your birthday or where you went on holiday.

        It might take a bit longer to pollute your Facebook data *properly*, just saying.

    2. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Did that 3 weeks ago. No regrets, and life is much less aggravating without seeing the torrent of crap opinions and useless posts that FB shoves in front of their users' eyeballs.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mugger

    So is this a mugger asking for permission to mug you?

    I don't care much for Apple, over priced, expensive to own and a tendency to shine you on but score one for apple. This must really be hurting google (Notice I did not say Facebook)

    Well played.

  14. IGotOut Silver badge

    Google next?

    Sogn into YouTube and you HAVE to agree to being signed into Safari as well.

    Granted I don't use Safari, but besides the point.

    1. myhandler

      Re: Google next?

      Not only that but when opt out of Google's cookies there are three separate items you must do individually. Each page is designed differently using different phraseology, all designed to obfuscate the issue.

      It's pathetic - it shows the contempt in which they hold the public.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Google next?

      Hmm. I’m using Safari right now. Where do I ‘sign in’? I have never signed in to Safari for anything. At least not so far as I know. Perhaps I’m missing something.

      Of course, I’ve never signed into YouTube, either. If I encounter a video that requires me to sign in, I merely move on to something else. I no longer have a Gmail address, and have never given YT _any_ address.

  15. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    RE: “Apple’s new prompt suggests there is a tradeoff between personalized advertising and privacy; when in fact, we can and do provide both,” Facebook insisted in a statement. “The Apple prompt also provides no context about the benefits of personalized ads.”

    There is a tradeoff involved when dealing with personalized advertising. You are relying on the company that profits from scraping your personal data to be honest when it says it's not scraping your personal data. While I am not aware of any specific instances of facebook storing personal data when they say they aren't, I don't trust them not to, and it's not as if it's not happened accidentally (remember a few years ago when Google accidentally stored terabytes of data (such as SSIDs as part of their Street View project and apparently didn't realise they'd stored it?

    As for their complaint about Apple providing no context about the benefits of personalized ads, in fairness, even Facebook have not adequately demonstrated this to me. Yes, in theory, they only advertise things I'll like, but in practice, 90% of what they advertise is of no interest to me, and even if they didn't, it's no effort for me to ignore any ad that doesn't interest me. I do it automatically. And no, I don't use ad blockers (I use a lot of smaller sites that really do need their advertising income) and I do stay signed in to facebook.

    Personally, I have no objection to being tracked. I do, however. think the company doing the tracking should provide a good justification for doing so, and any such system should be opt in. I also think they need to be honest about what data they are storing and why.

  16. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Targeted ads my arse!

    Yeah, I get ads, but if they're targeted, I can't for the life of me work out why. Yesterday, among others, I got an ad on facebook for automated holy water dispensers and something totally inappropriate that I could buy on Wish.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Targeted ads my arse!

      They are trying to `encourage` you to move from the moderate position to the extreme position. You are standing at the top of a hill looking serenely in all directions, but if you take a few steps in one direction FB comes up behind you and tries to push you over the cliff. Don't look down, it's scary.

  17. Mahhn

    Alternative - no app needed for FB

    Run your mobile browser in Desktop mode for the FB website, then there is no need for the app.

    You can even use the IM just like on a desktop.

    fyi - Location tracking, if you disable it "you" don't see the reports anymore, they are still generated for the customers that pay for them.

  18. DS999 Silver badge

    It is hilarious

    That Zuck calls Apple "Facebook's biggest competitor". He's just butthurt because Apple wants to make them ASK PERMISSION to share people's personal information across apps! The horror!!

    Apple doesn't compete with Facebook at all, and even if it is true that Facebook considers Apple their biggest competitor, Facebook wouldn't even rate inclusion in a Powerpoint slide listing every company Apple thought was their competition in some way. Maybe they will get added to the list if/when Apple starts selling AR/VR glasses.

  19. Jonjonz

    Partisan Bores Please Go Away

    Apple Fan boys remind me of those jerks in high school who if a conversation about hot cars ever came up, they would argue ad nauseum that "Chevy Rule" etc.

    Get a grip, get a life.

  20. Adam Inistrator

    Apple just inviting FB's offer

    FB will of course offer a share of the income to Apple eventually.

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