Facebook accuses Apple of interfering with its business and anticompetitive behavior

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seriously worried about Apple. He had long labeled the phone manufacturing company as “one of [Facebook’s] biggest competitors”. Facebook relies on the iPhone and iOS as half of its mobile platform in the United States. It is of little wonder the Social Media giant closely monitors any update by Apple.

The rift between Facebook and Apple intensified on Wednesday during Facebook’s quarterly earnings call with investors. Last month, Facebook  took out full-page newspaper attack ads against Apple.

Zuckerberg continued the attack on Wednesday by accusing Apple’s new changes around IDFA (IDentifier For Advertisers) as actually being intended to harm Facebook’s business interests and not protect customer privacy.

Apple delayed releasing a privacy feature as part of its iOS 14 update after developers, including Facebook, complained it would decrease their ad revenue. The update will ask users permission for apps to track them for advertising purposes.

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But on Wednesday, Apple announced that the feature, originally planned to be rolled out in September, would now be released early this spring. Facebook is worried that the feature will decrease Facebook’s revenue. The Social Media giant’s Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner said the company would face “significant ad targeting headwinds” in the first quarter of 2021 because of Apple’s privacy changes.

“Apple may say they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track with their competitive interests,” Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

He criticized Apple of making “misleading” privacy promises to people while offering a messaging service, iMessage, that has less privacy than Facebook’s WhatsApp.

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“We have a lot of competitors who make claims about privacy that are often misleading,” Zuckerberg said.

“Now Apple recently released so-called nutrition labels, which focused largely on metadata that apps collect rather than the privacy and security of people’s actual messages, but iMessage stores non-end-to-end encrypted backups of your messages by default unless you disable iCloud,” he said.

Zuckerberg went further to accuse Apple of anticompetitive behavior.

“We are also seeing Apple’s business depend more and more on gaining share in apps and services against us and other developers. So Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own. And this impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world,” he said.

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Zuckerberg said that while Apple “may say that they’re doing this to help people,” the changes “clearly track their competitive interests. And I think that this dynamic is important for people to understand because we and others are going to be up against this for the foreseeable future.”

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In a statement on Thursday apparently directed to Facebook but without naming the company, Apple CEO Tim Cook leveled a blistering condemnation of “conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms” as he discussed the new privacy tool the iPhone maker plans to roll out. Cook cited recent social unrest to a broader argument that app-tracking tools are turning consumers into advertising products.

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