Apple App Store privacy screens about Facebook: extensive, 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 various apps collect.

The privacy label of an application attracts attention: Facebook. In the Apple App Store, the Facebook app list now includes several pages detailing exactly what user data the app collects and what it’s used for.

Facebook’s long label, which could cause privacy-sensitive users to reconsider using the app, is an example of why the two Silicon Valley giants have engaged in a war of words over the past five years: Facebook and Apple have two models different businesses and are increasingly in conflict.

Apple is a consumer hardware company that makes money by selling phones, computers and accessories at premium prices. In recent years, it has added privacy features to make it more difficult for other companies to collect user data, which they market as the main reason for choosing Apple products over competitors.

Facebook is an advertising company that makes money by gathering detailed information about users to help advertisers target and tailor their messages to the audience they are most likely to respond to.

Some of Facebook’s complaints to Apple do not relate to these privacy tags – they are related to other conflicts between the two companies, such as a 30% reduction in in-app purchases from Apple and future changes to how apps can access IDs. ad targeting devices.

But the conflict between the two companies is ultimately about targeting users, as this November exchange shows:

“Facebook executives have made it clear that their intention is to collect as much data as possible for both primary and third-party products to develop and generate money from their detailed user profiles, and this ignores privacy. users continue to expand to include more of their products. ” Apple’s global head of privacy, Jane Horvath, said in a letter to human rights groups.

Facebook shot later that day in a statement saying Apple was using its power to put its competitors at a disadvantage. “They say it’s about privacy, but it’s about profit.”

The Facebook app and site have controls that help users set their privacy settings, Facebook said, and Apple’s labels ignore the important context of how it uses data to run its services.

The Facebook subsidiary WhatApp told Axios last week that Apple labels are anti-competitive because some of Apple’s own apps, such as Messages, are pre-installed on the iPhone and have no store records or similar labels. (Apple publishes how its preinstalled applications use user data on a support page on its website.)

Facebook tag

A quick look at the privacy labels shows why privacy-conscious users might be reluctant to download the app.

Two large sets of icons on the download page provide an overview of the data collected by the app, including “data used to track you” and “data related to you.” – two alarming, if not terribly accurate, descriptions:

Icons in the Facebook app list show that the app uses contact information, identifiers, and other data to “track” you or help you target ads in other apps and websites that Facebook doesn’t have.

Facebook also collects a variety of data about your identity, according to its privacy label, including health and fitness data, purchases, location and contacts.

If users touch “Show details”, they will receive scary accounts of the exact user data that Facebook collects and what it uses. This page reveals that Facebook uses “other financial information” and user content to target ads and collects “sensitive information” for its own analysis.

But perhaps the most memorable part of the Facebook privacy tag details page is how long it is – on the phone, it takes up multiple screens. It leaves a very strong impression that Facebook collects a massive treasure trove of data about its billions of users.