back to article Apple's anti-ad-tracking iPhone feature took a '$10bn' chunk out of social network revenues

In a move bound to incite a collective "diddums" from industry watchers, Apple's decision to change the privacy settings on iPhones has left an estimated $9.85bn crater in the revenues of Facebook, Snap, Twitter, and YouTube. Introduced in April, the App Tracking Transparency led to the number of Facebook and Instagram users …

  1. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    "including Apple's own advertising business."

    Which was the real reason behind the Apple move. Why let others make money on Apple's private platform?

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: "including Apple's own advertising business."

      It's an old game played by people in control of the platform. "There are people making money on our platform... but hey, we have a solution too, and people should use that one because we keep the money^W^W^W^W it's totally more secure."

  2. Cav Bronze badge

    "Help keep Facebook free of charge."

    What happened to "No charge, ever", or however, it was expressed? Was that not the terms of the agreement when we first signed up all those years ago? If you've kept that account since then, how would it be legal to impose a charge?

    Yes, I know Facebook is evil but I have family all over the world that I want to easily keep in touch with.

    1. pc-fluesterer.info
      Facepalm

      No need to use F.c.book

      "I have family all over the world that I want to easily keep in touch with"

      Well, there are other, and most of all CLEAN, ways to accomplish that!

      Signal, Threema, Wire, even Telegram is better than F.c.book, Insta or WA. And there are federated networks such as Jabber/XMPP or Element/Matrix.

      No need to use F.c.book.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: No need to use F.c.book

        Obligatory xkcd

      2. pavel.petrman

        Re: No need to use F.c.book

        What you propose here may sound like a solution to a novice, but to an intermediate veteran of the Internets it is more like repeating the same mistage again and expecting a different outcome. There are some of us who remember Whatsapp not belonging to Facebook*, among many other examples. The problem with all those apps/companies you name is that once they are big enough, they will inevitably end up being bought out just like Watsapp did. You have no guarantee whatsoever that any of these companies and their apps will not be slurped within a year or two by one of those big evil companies. Together with complete history data (which is what will make the bulk of the purchase price).

        * And Facebook being a fresh new and better alternative to the ubiqutous Myspace and ICQ. And Google actually not being evil. And so on and on.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: No need to use F.c.book

          The history issue is why I prefer to use apps that don't store history. I don't think Signal, which was founded by people interested in privacy, is about to sell out to Facebook or someone like them. If they do, I will drop the app. For a similar reason, I dropped WhatsApp when Facebook started announcing their plans to take it over (though I didn't use it very much beforehand).

          There's other options which can't be taken over. Email, for example, is just a set of protocols. You can communicate worldwide using it and Facebook can't buy the system. Facebook is in no way required to communicate internationally.

          1. pavel.petrman

            Re: No need to use F.c.book

            If you read my comment carefully you'll find I only commented on proposed switch to alternative apps, not on international communication as a whole.

            Of course there are other means. What I said is that a switch to another app/provider is no guarantee whatsoever that the whatsapp situation will not be repeated again.

            I haven't yet seen one single company providing messaging services for public use which could or would really guarantee they are not storing any personal data which could be turned into money. When the buyer is big enough (about the size of Google, Facebook, Amazon), even a tiny amount of metadata or diagnostic logs could do a great harm in terms of personal data privacy. As far as smartphones are concerned, the only way for an app to be really secure from data privacy perspective is not to be an app at all. Which is all well and good for you as an IT pro, but not a viable option for a common person under peer pressure of other common people with smartphones grown inseparably attached to their hands.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: No need to use F.c.book

              That is only creating a false equivalence between three options which in all respects are very different from one another. Apps which do not currently track their users could be sold, but not all of them will be. WhatsApp was built for easy communication, not privacy and security. Signal was built for privacy and security. Therefore, it's much less surprising to see WhatsApp sold than it would be to see Signal sold. Facebook and Signal, although both being apps, have very different privacy records and are likely to have different futures.

              As for decentralized methods, you're correct about some of them being too technical for the average user, but not always. The average user knows how to email, and from a phone too. They can also download a frontend and log in; when using decentralized Jitsi as a videochat platform, people didn't have a problem searching for Jitsi Meet and logging in. Not all alternatives will be unfriendly to users.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If Facebook is such a great product?

      Why doesn’t the company offer an ad-free version?

      Or is it all about adverts? And Nazis - but mostly ads.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Come in? Come in?

      Mark, is that you?

    4. tmTM

      "Help keep Facebook free of charge."

      If they introduced a charge they might suddenly realise the vast number of fake profiles active on their system.

      and they wouldn't want that now would they?

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    how would it be legal to impose a charge?

    I read somewhere that the right to free access to Facebook was historically inscribed on the Magnum carton. I'm sure Lionel Hutz is on the case, if only for the free ice cream.

  4. Chris G

    Perspective

    How has that drop in advertising revenue affected the sales of those who would have placed ads and paid for the privilege?

    Users pay FartBook for its services with their data, who then sells that data to the ad companies, who charge the product manufacturers who want to advertise their products and the manufacturers recover the cost of that advertising by charging the customers who provide the data to enable them to be advertised to.

    Users lose twice.

  5. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    Apple tracking

    Can you opt out of that?

    1. pc-fluesterer.info
      Boffin

      yes: Refrain from Apple

      easy done: Don't use Apple spy devices.

    2. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: Apple tracking

      Settings | Advertising | Personalise ads | Off

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Barbarians

    The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death, we are either killed or drowned.

    Now that's meta.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple - Meh

    Faecebook - Meh^2

    Meh Ta

  8. aerogems Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Won't Anyone Think Of The Executives?

    They have yacht payments to make! How are they ever going to do that without their quarterly bonuses?!

    Paris, because she's probably been on more than a few yachts.

  9. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    I imagine...

    I Imagine that the drop is so large because Apple customers are seen as premium targets - they've already been convinced to fork out for the Apple tax, so they must have some additional spending capacity. And a propensity to succumb to the Reality Distortion Field of advertising, makes Apple customers prime candidates for marketing.

    Take away the ability to target Apple customers directly, and Facebook and co. cant demand that extra bonus price. No wonder, it's hitting them so hard.

    My heart bleeds for Zuck, how is he ever going to build his Metaverse without those extra billions! I can already see the upcoming headlines "Facebook says Apple killed the Metaverse!"

    We can only hope...

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I imagine...

      I'm reminded of how scam emails are apparently easy to see through because it preselects for the most gullible people. After all, there's no point in starting conversations with people who will eventually figure out during the process that they're being scammed; far better to go for the 0.1% of people who will swallow anything you tell them.

      Makes sense that Apple customers are prime targets then!

  10. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    What a wonderful feeling.

    My not giving a rat's arse about farceberk and my not giving a flying fuck what Apple does just coalesced into a magical, warm glow of meh.

    Hopefully enough to get me through the day without my blood boiling at the latest round of eco-cobblers from Boris and co in lala land (formerly Scotland).

  11. Howard Sway Silver badge

    "Help keep Facebook free of charge"

    Oh my, how do I donate to this heart-rending charity appeal?

  12. Michael Habel

    Imaging my sorrow where Facebook to suddenly switch to a subscription based product overnight. I'm sure I'd be over it in less than five minutes, and all the more greatful for it too...

  13. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Liars, damned liars, etc.

    I have a hard time believing those numbers.

    The iOS setting just blocks the IDFA. Apple's developer TOS says that the app has to respect the "user choice" for third-party ad SDKs it contains, but iOS does not enforce (or check) whether that occurs. iOS sensor permission are also not very granular. Apps can access environmental sensors, gyro & motion, battery level, volume settings, etc. with no permission request needed, making it easy to generate at least a temporary fingerprint on the fly.

    Indeed, there have been numerous reports of tracking SDKs simply ignoring "Ask app not to track" and using fingerprinting to create a new unique identifier. None of those were caught by the App Store's vaunted review process.

    In addition to loose control of sensor access, iOS has no built-in tool to show what domains your device is reaching out to. Thus, the average user has no way to know that this exfiltration is occurring. For that matter, an app could send fingerprinting diagnostic data points to its own parent domain; if it's encrypted, how would you differentiate that from 'legitimate' app traffic?

    There's also the issue of so-called "app analytics," which -- if they come from an ad seller such as Google or FB -- can return device data points to their mothership that the advertising systems can access to create a fingerprint indirectly.

    Given the billions at stake, it seems likely that numerous ( if not most?) apps are tracking people anyway, by hook or by crook. As such, I think it's reasonable to assume that "Ask app not to track" is not really the ad-pocalypse that advertisers portray it as.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ^H^H^H^H Took a 10 billion dollar chunk out of Zuk's addiction engine.

    There. Fixed that for you. :)

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