Facebook launched a PR assault against Apple on Wednesday, proclaiming that the iPhone maker’s upcoming changes to its mobile operating system will hurt small businesses’ ability to target advertising and app makers’ ability to offer free content.
When Apple AAPL, -0.34% updates iOS 14 on mobile devices early next year, it will require apps to show a prompt allowing users to opt out of targeted advertising. That will hinder Facebook’s FB, -0.01% ability to collect information it could use to personalize ads, and the company launched an assault Wednesday that included publicly standing with “Fortnite” owner Epic Games Inc. in its antitrust suit against Apple.
In full-page ads Wednesday morning in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, Facebook said it is “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.” The social media giant also held a news conference featuring a couple of small-business owners who said their businesses have thrived because they effectively target personalized ads.
“There’s no possible way our business would be where it is today without personalized ads,” said Monique Wilsondebriano, who co-owns Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. in South Carolina with her husband Chevalo. She said that when they started their business in 2012, they turned to online ads because they could not afford radio or television advertising: “No way, hands down.”
Apple did not return a request for comment Wednesday, but it has previously been critical of Facebook’s data-collection and ad targeting.
Dan Levy, Facebook vice president for ads and business products, said Facebook “fundamentally disagrees” with Apple’s stance that “personalized ads are inherently inconsistent with privacy.” He added that Facebook and others in the industry “can protect privacy while using personalized data.”
Levy also said Apple’s moves are “anticompetitive,” echoing antitrust sentiment against Big Tech, and said Apple is trying to “go back 20 to 30 years” to a time before targeted advertising.
Facebook also said it intends to support Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior after it removed Fortnite from the App Store because Epic offered a way to pay for in-app purchases that bypassed the App Store.
Apple, which has been criticized for the 30% cut it takes from app developers, last month launched a small business program that slashes commission rates in half for businesses that make under $1 million a year.
Facebook faces its own antitrust scrutiny, with the Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general signing on to an antitrust suit against the company last week. Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL, -0.33% GOOG, -0.48% Google also faces federal and state antitrust charges, and Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +1.67% is being investigated for potentially anticompetitive actions by the European Union and reportedly the U.S.
Facebook shares gained slightly in Wednesday morning trading, while Apple declined about 0.3%. Apple stock has gained 73.6% so far this year, making it worth more than $2 trillion, while Facebook shares have increased 34.4%. The S&P 500 index has gained 14.4% in that time.