Facebook is trying to convince you that it’s a protector of small businesses. Given Facebook’s track record of anticompetitive behavior and privacy issues this is hardly believeable. The main target of Facebook’s new ad campaign is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature that Apple has deployed with iOS 14. Instead of letting users being tracked by third party trackers in apps without their knowledge, Apple is asking users for their explicit consent. This kind of consent interface is not new, there similar for other permissions in iOS such as asking to access the location, microphone, bluetooth or camera.
But Facebook, having built a massive empire around the concept of tracking everything you do by letting applications sell and share your data across a shady set of third–party companies, would like users and policymakers to believe that this a bad move, especially for small businesses.
For many years now, the behavioral advertising industry has put forward the notion that behavioral, targeted ads are better than non-targeted ads. Targeted ads follow you around the Internet with sometimes eerily accurate results. Non-targeted ads on the other hand, are not based on your personal information but rather on the content of the webpage you are visiting. But are personalized ads really better? The more accurate question is better for whom?
A number of studies show that in reality, most of the money made from targeted advertising ends up in the pocket of data brokers. It doesn’t go to the actual creators of the content. Instead, as the The Association of National Advertisers estimates the lion share of 60 to 70 per cent per dollar spent for advertising goes to third-party data brokers.
The bottom line is that Facebook as a company that actually owns your personal data is simply trying to protect it’s business interests. It’s not about caring for small businesses.