Facebook asks users to opt into activity tracking ahead of iOS 14 changes

Igor Bonifacic
·Contributing Writer
·2-min read

Starting today, some iOS users will see a new notification when they launch the Facebook app on their iPhones and iPads. The message (seen above) prompts individuals to allow the company to track their activity across websites and apps. According to CNBC, Facebook is testing the notification ahead of several privacy changes Apple will implement later in the year.

Those new policies were initially scheduled to go into effect with the release of iOS 14. However, Apple later delayed them into 2021 to give developers more time to make their software compliant. One of the tweaks will require developers to explicitly ask iPhone and iPad users for permission to obtain the unique IDFA code associated with their device. With the help of Facebook’s Audience Network, that identifier is what allows companies to link your Facebook data to a third-party app in order to show you a targeted ad.

Notably, Facebook’s message will appear before Apple’s own notification, thereby allowing the social media company to set the tone of the conversation. By opting into website and app tracking, Facebooks says it can provide you with a “better ads experience,” one where you’ll see more personalized advertisements. It also claims you’ll be helping businesses that rely on advertising to reach their customers.

Facebook came out against the IDFA requirement almost immediately after it was announced at WWDC 2020, and the two have been trading blows ever since. “Apple may say that they're doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s most recent earnings report.

Without explicitly naming Facebook, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded one day later. “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are not choices at all, it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform,” he said. That same day it came out that Facebook was reportedly preparing to launch an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple.

Correction 02/04 4:50 PM ET: A previous version of this article mistakenly misquoted Tim Cook, stating that Facebook deserves “scorn.” We regret the error.