Apple recently released iOS 14.5, and with it a new feature that, for the first time, allows users not to track their activity across different sites and services. In an attempt to dissuade them from doing so, the Facebook and Instagram iOS apps are encouraging users to leave data tracking on, telling them this will ‘help keep Facebook/Instagram free of charge’.
Facebook has added a new element to its own iOS 14.5 prompts to encourage users not to switch off data tracking, implying the imposition of a fee if people opt out. The new element was announced last week, and has been added into the platform’s original warning screens in relation to the iOS update.
Apple’s new software version for iPhones and iPads called iOS 14.5 allows users to refuse identifier used for targeting advertising in apps. Apple says the option of not using the IDFA (identifier for advertisers) is introduced out of respect for privacy, while Facebook and other advertisers have objected as they fear it will hit their advertising business.
“At Facebook we use data to provide personalized ads, which support small businesses and help keep apps free of charge,” the company said in a statement. “As Apple has said that providing additional context is allowed, we are showing an educational screen before presenting Apple’s prompt to help people make an informed decision about how their information is used.”
Facebook has clarified that it is not charging users who disallow tracking across apps and websites. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stated that the company’s apps will remain free, via its ad supported model.
Testifying to Congress in 2018, Zuckerberg explained that: “Yes, there will always be a version of Facebook that is free […] We think offering people an ad-supported service is the most aligned with our mission of trying to connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford. That’s the only way we can reach billions of people.”
However, the “keep Facebook free of charge” wording does sound like a warning for the users.