Apple, Facebook at each other’s throats over data privacy

  • In a letter to pro-privacy nonprofits on Thursday, Apple accused Facebook of collecting “as much data as possible” while showing a “disregard for user privacy.”
  • Facebook shot back saying Apple is abusing its dominance to “self-preference their own data collection.”
  • Apple’s letter was defending the delayed rollout of a privacy feature that will require users to opt in to being followed by ad-trackers on apps.
  • Facebook previously complained this feature would gut its advertising revenue.
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Apple and Facebook traded barbs this week over which one of them exploits their users more.

Apple struck the first blow on Thursday in a letter addressed to nonprofits, including Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, saying it doesn’t hoover up detailed user data to sell to third parties. Facebook takes a “very different approach,” Apple said.

“Not only do they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about online browsing activity to target ads,” Apple’s Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Hovarth wrote in the letter, which was first reported on by Bloomberg.

“Facebook executives have made clear their intent is to collect as much data as possible across both first and third party products to develop and monetize detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues to expand to include more of their products.” 

Facebook hit back hard in a statement sent to Business Insider, accusing Apple of abusing its dominance to benefit itself. 

It also accused Apple of sending the letter as a “distraction” from privacy concerns that emerged last week after a series of Mac computers had difficulties opening apps. Security researcher Jeffrey Paul claimed in a blog this was because macOS has started harvesting data from users.

“The truth is Apple has expanded its business into advertising and through its upcoming iOS 14 changes is trying to move the free internet into paid apps and services where they profit,” Facebook said.

“As a result, they are using their dominant market position to self-preference their own data collection while making it nearly…