Various data is used by companies like Facebook to personalize ads to an individual person based on demographics, geographic location, interests, and activity. Late last year, Apple introduced its new privacy-centered changes that forced all app developers to explicitly ask users for permission to collect this data. Facebook was not happy (and is still not happy) about it.
Apart from preparing a lawsuit to accuse Apple of anti-competitive behavior, Facebook is launching a new ad campaign that focuses on helping small businesses through tough times. A video ad was released on Thursday with the tagline “Good ideas deserve to be found”.
You see, before iOS 14.5, any app (not just Facebook or Instagram) could collect data from its users as long as the users accepted the app or service’s terms and conditions. Apple decided this was no longer enough if it wanted to protect iPhone users privacy, so the update forced all apps to ask the user if they would allow the app to collect this precious data.
Going back to the video ad, comments are turned off for the video and it has far more dislikes than likes. Facebook’s apparent intent to help small businesses is clearly a cry to its users to let Facebook continue tracking them for targeted ads. The video features far more Facebook and Instagram users finding things to follow and buy than the small businesses. Here’s the video’s description:
The world is full of good ideas. Now, thanks to personalized ads, small businesses can get theirs found. Good ideas deserve to be found.
The wording of this video’s description seems to suggest that personalized ads are a new thing. Facebook was already tracking its users before this update and it still is tracking users that haven’t explicitly opted out from activity tracking for personalized ads across Facebook and Instagram.
The campaign isn’t all in bad faith, though. Facebook is waiving fees for businesses who sell products with Checkout on Shops through June 2021 and it also won’t collect fees for paid online events until August. It’s adding a way to find restaurants in the “Businesses Nearby” screens, and it’s making it easier for restaurants to add their menus onto their Facebook Pages. While these gestures may help businesses with some advertising costs, it’s still helping Facebook’s bottom line.
The new blog post links to a page from June 2020 that explains how personalized ads work, but it’s kind of generalized and doesn’t delve deeper into exactly what information is collected by the app.