It Looks Like Facebook Might Be Gearing Up for a Big Antitrust Battle with Apple

It Looks Like Facebook Might Be Gearing Up for a Big Antitrust Battle with Apple
Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP, Getty Images
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While it might seem ridiculous for Facebook to accuse any other company of having monopolistic tendencies, apparently the social media giant has spent the past several months preparing for an antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

According to a new report from the Information, with the help of outside legal counsel, Facebook has been putting together an antitrust lawsuit against Apple claiming that the company’s App Store guidelines represent market abuse, because third-party developers have to abide by the App Store’s rules while Apple’s own apps seem to get a pass.

Facebook’s plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple comes in the wake of Epic Games’ similar complaints after Apple booted Fortnite from the App Store (as a refresher, Epic tried to provide an alternate method for purchasing Fortnite’s virtual currency without giving Apple a cut and it didn’t go well). The Information reports that it’s unclear if Facebook will go through with its lawsuit, but hiring outside counsel and exploring the possibility of legal action strongly suggests tensions between the two tech giants are heating up again.

Back in June, Apple announced that it planned to add “nutrition labels” to apps that would more clearly explain how people’s data was being used and would require developers get user consent before being able to use third-party data tracking. However, after Facebook complained that Apple’s changes could potentially destroy revenue generated by Facebook’s ad network, Apple decided to delay the rollout of app nutrition labels and tracking permissions until this year in order “to give developers time to make necessary changes.”

With Facebook so reliant on its Audience Network for advertising revenue, any changes to Apple’s App Store guidelines poses a huge threat to Facebook’s bottom line. It’s not hard to see why Facebook might resort to a lawsuit to prevent or delay any upcoming changes. But Facebook is also not exactly in a position to throw stones at Apple, given its own antitrust issues.

Apple’s plans to give its users more control over their privacy means this conflict is far from over, and while consent for tracking and app nutrition labels may have been delayed, they are still set to go into effect sometime later this year.