Facebook and Instagram threaten to charge for their services if users enable tracking in iOS 14.5

Apple introduced its newest privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency to iPhones and iPads with the iOS 14.5 update late last week. The update gives users the control to either allow or deny developers access to track their online activity across third-party apps and websites.

Facebook was one of the biggest companies that spoke out against App Tracking Transparency when it was announced. From taking out ads in newspapers against Apple to suggesting ATT would have negative effects on small businesses, the company has been clear on its stance. Following the release of iOS 14.5, Facebook and Instagram have started showing prompts to iOS users with a plea that tracking user activity helps keep these social platforms free. Keeping Facebook and Instagram’s massive user base in mind, this prompt can be seen as the social media giant hitting back at Apple’s privacy change.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook asking users to help keep its social media platforms free of charge

Following the release of Apple’s controversial App Tracking Transparency feature, all developers must ask for permission before they can track a user between apps and websites. This has led to massive companies like Facebook using threats to make use users give it permission to track them.

“To help people make a more informed decision, we’re also showing a screen of our own, along with Apple’s. It will provide more information about how we use personalized ads, which support small businesses and keep apps free. If you accept the prompts for Facebook and Instagram, the ads you see on those apps won’t change. If you decline, you will still see ads, but they will be less relevant to you. Agreeing to these prompts doesn’t result in Facebook collecting new types of data. It just means that we can continue to give people better experiences.”

Those screens are suggesting that users can “help keep Facebook/Instagram free” by allowing ads. This means that Facebook could begin to charge users for access to these huge social media platforms in the future. Note that Apple’s App Store policies forbid apps from offering incentives for users to allow themselves to be tracked. Since Apple kicked off Epic Games’ Fornite from its App Store for disobeying its rules, there’s no reason why it cannot do the same to Facebook’s apps.

Several days ago, Facebook reported a strong first-quarter with a 12% Y-o-Y increase in the number of ads. The company’s CFO Dave Wehner said that “we expect that advertising revenue growth will continue to be primarily driven by price during the rest of 2021.” Wehner believes despite the impact new ATT update likely to appear in Q2, the company expects “increased ad targeting.” If threatening to make its apps paid is what Facebook has in mind in response to ATT, it will be interesting to see what the company does next.

If you have upgraded to iOS 14.5 and still have not seen Facebook and Instagram prompts yet, wait a few days. The company says the prompts will start to appear for all users soon.

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About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.