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Facebook launches ads criticizing new Apple privacy changes

Facebook launches ads criticizing new Apple privacy changes
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Facebook launched an ad campaign and new website Wednesday blasting Apple’s new privacy changes that will limit the ability for personalized ads to target users. 

Facebook’s new website features small-business owners from across the U.S. with blurbs attached to their photos stating how the new privacy changes would negatively impact their livelihoods.

The move represents the latest effort by Facebook to ramp up criticism of the update as being harmful for small-business owners who advertise on its platform. 

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The social media giant also ran print and digital ads Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post that Facebook is “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill. 

Earlier this week, Apple said it is launching privacy labels that will require all apps sold on its stores to disclose information about the data it tracks from users. It's part of a broader set of changes Apple announced in June that the company said aims to increase transparency regarding data collection. 

One feature Apple said is set to be put in place early next year would require developers to ask users for permission to track them across platforms before accessing data about them.

Apple said it delayed the anti-tracking feature, rather than including it as part of the iOS14 update in September, to give developers time to update their systems and data practices. 

Facebook has criticized the anti-tracking feature for months. The company published a blog post in August stating a test of the feature led to more than a 50 percent drop in Audience Network publisher revenue and warned the impacts may end up being “much worse.” 

Tech advocacy groups have praised the proposed change as a “vital policy improvement with the potential to strengthen respect for privacy across the industry,” in a letter this fall criticizing Apple over the delay

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But Facebook has accused Apple of being motivated by profit, not privacy, in implementing the new change. 

Facebook also criticized Apple as being harmful to developers in a separate statement regarding new tech rules the European Commission unveiled Tuesday.

The proposed new rules, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), aim to regulate online content and competition among the biggest tech companies. Companies that don’t comply with the new competition rules can face fines up to 10 percent of their total worldwide annual turnover or be forced to sell off portions of their businesses. 

A Facebook spokesperson said the company welcomes the new proposals. 

“We have long called for regulation on harmful content and have actively contributed to several European initiatives in this area, including the EU codes of conduct on hate speech and disinformation. We also support rules that help foster innovation, enable competition and protect consumer welfare and we acknowledge that these rules must apply to us,” the spokesperson said. 

“We hope the DMA will also set boundaries for Apple,” the statement continued. “Apple controls an entire ecosystem from device to app store and apps, and uses this power to harm developers and consumers, as well as large platforms like Facebook.”

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

The European Commission’s rules come as tech giants face increasing allegations of antitrust violations. 

Facebook was charged last week in two separate lawsuits, from the Federal Trade Commission and from a coalition of 48 attorneys general, over allegations of anti-competitive acquisitions. 

Facebook has defended itself against the lawsuits, calling it “revisionist history” and emphasizing the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram that are targeted in the lawsuits were approved by regulators at the time.