Facebook can’t hide its disregard for our privacy behind small businesses

Does anyone really want Facebook to be on their side?

Earlier today, Facebook launched a fresh attack against Apple in the form of a series of full-page newspaper ads. The company’s argument is that the new privacy changes in iOS 14 will, while making an impact on Facebook itself, be devastating to small businesses.

Reported by Bloomberg, Facebook has titled the full-page ads with the title, “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

Facebook Inc. attacked Apple Inc. in a series of full-page newspaper ads Wednesday, claiming the iPhone maker’s anticipated mobile software changes around data gathering and targeted advertising are bad for small businesses.

The ads, slated to run in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, carry the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.” They home in on upcoming changes to Apple’s iOS 14 operating system that will curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data about mobile users and ply them with advertising.

The timing of this advertising campaign is not coincidental. Apple’s new privacy policies, which require apps on the App Store to disclose what kind of personal data they collect from its users, went live yesterday with the release of iOS 14.3. The privacy labels, which Apple compares to the nutrition labels found on food packaging, has revealed the sheer amount of personal information that the Facebook app collects from its users.

As Noah Evans, an iOS developer, pointed out in a video post on Twitter, Facebook collects an obscene amount of data from you when you use its app on the best iPhones and best iPads.

Facebook has known about these privacy changes since Apple announced them at WWDC in June and even fought to delay the changes, which Apple agreed to back in September when they were originally supposed to go into effect.

While Facebook undeniably cares about small businesses, it is also naive to deny that Facebook cares about Facebook more — it’s a publicly-traded company and has shown time and time again that things that affect Facebook are more important than the things that affect the users or small businesses that find themselves on the platform.

Facebook also makes most of its advertising revenue off of the small businesses that use its services, so while it has self-proclaimed itself as the protector of small business, the negative financial impact to Facebook would be the more important point that Facebook is quietly trying to make.

The company has already failed to convince the world that it can be trusted by users to protect their privacy. From the 2016 United States election to documentaries like Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, story after story has shown the dangerous consequences of data collection on the scale that Facebook engages in. It appears that, rather than trying to justify the privacy that you give up by using its service, Facebook is now attempting to buddy up to and hide behind small businesses.

Don’t get me wrong, I empathize with small businesses who have found success with Facebook’s advertising platform and will be negatively impacted by this change. The company has built one of the most successful advertising tools for small companies to get in front of potential customers. However, the disregard for individual privacy enabling that kind of targeted advertising is too high a cost for anyone to pay.

At the end of the day, the core of this topic continues to ask the same old question that we have to ask ourselves when it comes to our data and our personal information: should we have to sacrifice our privacy for the sake of business? Whether it be a small or large business, should you have to give up your privacy for that company’s benefit? Apple’s answer is, and has always been, no. And, as the company continues to make these changes more public, choosing an iPhone, an iPad, or any other Apple product is also a vote that privacy is, as the company’s own Craig Federighi always puts it, “a fundamental human right.”

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Facebook can’t hide its disregard for our privacy behind small businesses

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