Apple App Retailer privateness screens on Fb: in depth, alarming
Apple CEO Tim Cook (l) and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook.
Getty Images (L) | Reuters (R)
Earlier this week, Apple updated its App Store to show information about what types of user data different apps collect.
An app’s data protection label receives a lot of attention: Facebook. In the Apple App Store, the Facebook App List now has multiple pages detailing what user data the app collects and what it is used for.
Facebook’s long label, which could lead privacy-sensitive users to rethink using the app, is an example of why the two Silicon Valley giants have fought a war of words over the past five years: Facebook and Apple have two different business models, and they are increasingly conflicting.
Apple is a consumer hardware company that makes money selling phones, computers, and accessories at premium prices. In the past few years, privacy features have been added to make it more difficult for other companies to collect user data. This is the main reason for choosing Apple products over those of competitors.
Facebook is an advertising company that makes money by gathering detailed information about users to help advertisers target their messages to audiences who are most likely to respond.
Some of Facebook’s complaints to Apple are not related to these privacy labels. They concern other conflicts between the two companies, e.g. For example, Apple’s 30% reduction in in-app purchases and the upcoming changes to how apps can access device IDs for targeting ads.
However, the conflict between the two companies is ultimately about user targeting, as this November exchange shows:
“Facebook executives have made it clear that they intend to collect as much data as possible on first and third party products in order to develop and monetize detailed profiles of their users. This disregard for user privacy continues to grow and encompass more their products. ” Apple’s global data protection commissioner Jane Horvath said in a letter to human rights groups.
Facebook returned in a statement later that day that Apple was using its power to disadvantage its competitors. “They say it’s about privacy, but it’s about profit.”
Facebook’s app and website have controls that users can use to set their privacy settings, according to Facebook. Apple’s labels ignore important contexts in using data to run their services.
Facebook subsidiary WhatApp told Axios last week that Apple’s labels are anti-competitive because some of Apple’s own apps, like Messages, are pre-installed on iPhones and have no store offers or similar labels. (Apple publishes how its preinstalled apps use user data on a support page on its website.)
A quick look at the privacy labels reveals why privacy conscious users may be reluctant to download the app.
Two large icons on the download page provide an overview of the data the app is collecting, including “data that is tracking you” and “data that is associated with you” – two alarming-sounding, if not terribly accurate, descriptions :
The icons in the Facebook app list indicate that the app is using contact information, identifiers, and other data to “track” you or target ads on other apps and websites that Facebook does not own.
Facebook also collects a variety of data associated with your identity according to its privacy label, including health and fitness data, purchases, location, and contacts.
When users tap “View Details” they get a scary-looking statement of exactly what user data Facebook collects and what it is used for. This page shows that Facebook uses “other financial information” and user content to target ads and collects “confidential information” for its own analysis.
But perhaps the most memorable part of Facebook’s privacy label detail page is how long it takes – on the phone, it takes up multiple screens. It leaves a very strong impression that Facebook is collecting a huge amount of data on its billions of users.