Facebook has pushed back against Apple’s planned rollout of anti-tracking tools at every possible opportunity, but now the social media giant seems to be changing its tune in a last-ditch effort to save face. On Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook may actually be in a “stronger position” after the privacy updates to iOS and is optimistic about how the company will weather this change, according to CNBC and CNET.
“The reality is is that I’m confident that we’re gonna be able to manage through that situation well and we’ll be in a good position,” he said in a Clubhouse room Thursday per the outlets.
With Apple’s planned privacy updates for iOS 14, which are scheduled to roll out sometime this spring, the company aims to give iOS users more transparency and control over their data by requesting permission before apps can track their activity across other apps and the web.
Facebook hasn’t been too keen on that idea given that roughly 98% of its revenue stream depends on targeted ads, which are built around monitoring a person’s browsing habits. The company launched a campaign to convince folks that personalised ads are good, actually, which has so far involved taking out full-page ads in several leading newspapers to condemn Apple and running a video ad claiming that Apple’s privacy updates are killing small businesses by not giving Facebook and other apps free rein to hoover up your data.
(As you might already suspect, Facebook’s claims have been found to be misleading at best, and self-serving propaganda at the worst. While advertising might become slightly more difficult for small businesses and developers with Apple’s new updates, Facebook stands to take the biggest revenue hit, not the little guys.)
Now though, with Apple’s updates looming close on the horizon, Facebook is apparently adopting a new strategy: corncobbing. Aka, to continue to embarrass oneself rather than admit to being brutally owned.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg reiterated concerns that Apple’s decision could still hurt small businesses and developers, but also expressed hope that Facebook might benefit from the situation, CNBC and CNET report.
“It’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position if Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct more commerce on our platforms by making it harder for them to use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” he said.
That’s a far cry from the bleak picture Facebook painted before. In August 2020, the company warned that Apple’s updates could lead to a more than 50% drop in its Audience Network advertising business, which lets mobile software developers personalise ads based on Facebook’s data. Facebook’s chief financial officer David Wehner also expressed concern it could hurt the social network’s ability to effectively target ads to users.
Apple and Facebook did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comments. Apple has repeatedly defended its planned privacy updates against Facebook’s accusations, arguing that these new features aren’t getting rid of targeted ads entirely but instead giving users the chance to opt-out if they wish to.