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Facebook raises concerns that iOS 14 could harm its ad business

iOS 14 introduces a range of features to let users control which data each app can access, including clipboard notifications and also an option to disable tracking between apps. These features are already causing problems for some developers, and Facebook in particular is concerned about its ad business ahead of these changes.

Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner told CNBC today that the company fears that iOS 14 will have a negative impact on how Facebook operates its advertisements. As the company’s revenue comes in large part from advertisements, any attempt to hinder such practice will hurt Facebook’s business.

We’re still trying to understand what these changes will look like and how they will impact us and the rest of the industry, but at the very least, it’s going to make it harder for app developers and others to grow using ads on Facebook and elsewhere.

Wehner refers to a new option included with iOS 14 that allows users to disable tracking between apps. Developers use trackers to identify each user in different apps and websites so they can target advertisements based on what you access on your device. Even if users leave this option enabled, third-party apps will have to ask permission for tracking and collecting your personal data.

Here’s how Apple describes this feature:

Apple requires app developers to ask for permission before they track you or your device across apps or websites they don’t own in order to target advertising to you, measure your actions due to advertising, or to share your information with data brokers.

David Wehner argues that Facebook’s advertising platform is critical for small businesses as anyone can easily promote their products and services to millions of people. The company forecasts revenue growth of 10% for the third quarter, but now Facebook expects a decline in the fourth quarter once iOS 14 becomes available to the public this fall.

However, It’s not clear how Apple will verify if these apps are collecting personal data through other apps and websites.

“Our view is that Facebook and targeted ads are a lifeline for small businesses, especially in the time of Covid, and we are concerned that aggressive platform policies will cut at that lifeline at a time when it is so essential to small business growth and recovery,” Wehner said.

If you’re already running iOS 14 beta, you can find the new tracking option by accessing the Privacy menu in the Settings app.

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