Facebook and iOS 14

Episode notes

  • Sonys hugely tall phone is actually really great for split screening with NBA and twitter
  • Airmessage is a way to get iMessage on android and works really well which is surprising
  • Facebook posted a blog post about how they are going to handle the IDFA changes
  • Folks have to agree to be tracked
  • Is the dialogue to track you scary? Your data will be used to track you. Who will click allow tracking
  • Ask app not to track
  • Highlights the reality that theres only so much control that apple has
  • Facebook specifically isnt going ot follow the letter of the Apples rules, they are just going to track another way.
  • This also hurts apple since all of this spend is happening via IAP on the App Store.
  • The real issue is going to be third parties wont be able to personalize the ads as well which means its third party publishers and games that have the most to

Ask app not to track

This is an interesting topic and one I have to admit I really dont know enough about. The short version is that advertising based apps like Facebook use IDFA numbers as unique identifiers for users across applications. This is especially useful for what they call app instal ads which app makers buy to promote their apps. With the IDFA facebook was not only able to track weather or not you downloaded the app when you click on the add they are able to track any actions or more importantly any purchases you made within the app. This way advertisers could have precise control over their return on investment. That kind of control makes advertising a no brainer, your basically guaranteed to make your ROI which is pretty amazing from the game makers perspective.

Without the IDFA its much harder to connect the user to their facebook account but there are other simple things to do, such as require game makers to type in their email address to play the game. Apple says however that even that isnt allowed but it seems like Facebook is basically saying its going to do it anyway.

It’s interesting to think about all this from the user’s perspective a little bit. This is a debate that we have been having for years now but this change brings the various tech companies perspective on it into clearer focus.

Apps like facebook and publishers like buzzfeed are likely always going to be at least partially advertising supported. Sure you can use an ad blocker but everyone knows thats not sustainable in the long run. So that means we are stuck seeing ads so its really a question of which ads you want to see?

This is where I have to admit that I think I have a problem. I’ve ordered more than a few things I saw on my instagram ads and the ads are so well targeted to me I often enjoy the ads more than my friends baby photos.

So do I want to make these ads worse by withholding my personal information. Is my privacy worth having a potentially much worse experience? I spend a few months working on a lot of facebook ads for my last employer so I know pretty well how all that data works. It’s all anonymous, you get counts of people not individual names or profiles.

Thinking about it the real issue is that while all that information is anonymous when you are looking to post the ads what most people dont realize is that as soon as you click on the ad you are effectively agreeing to share all your activity on that third party website back to facebook, not just in that single session but anytime you return as well.

I think apple just wants people to know and have the option to disagree to that kind of tracking which is totally reasonable. But are people equipped to make the right decision. I’m sitting here looking at the settings screen that facebook calls “Your off-Facebook activity” and its kind of shocking how many websites are in here. The verge.com alone send 400 “events” including all the articles I read and of course any ads there I also clicked on.

The nice thing is that there’s also a single button here to clear all that data, so if i dont want facebook I can delete it all right now with one click. But do I want to do that? Do I want to reduce the relevance of my facebook and instagram ads? Like I said before I’m going to see the ads either way.

Maybe this trade off is worth it to me specifically? Maybe Apple is going a bit to far on this one? I’m not sure what to believe.