Facebook and Apple are at war, with the biggest battle still on the horizon

Apple Inc. debuted a national advertising campaign on data privacy last week, a day after Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. shared a quarterly update on how it has ratcheted up security for its members.

Admittedly, not headline-screaming stuff for two companies that relentlessly discuss privacy and security. But there is an underlying message to the two companies’ dueling news: Each is escalating rhetoric in a yearslong feud with each other over how they handle data for billions of people. The acrimony is sure to spiral in the coming months and years, as they pursue the metaverse and augmented reality, tech observers told MarketWatch.


and Facebook

have adopted polar opposite business models. Meta relies almost entirely on selling targeted ads based on a tranche of data supplied by its more than 3 billion members who joined Facebook for free. Apple, conversely, charges large premiums on its devices and offers services that are largely devoid of ads. While Facebook thrives, and suffers, from endless user-generated content with spotty moderation, Apple maintains an iron grip on what gets into its ecosystem. This allows the iPhone maker to command a steep percentage of any money that flows to the developers it allows inside the App Store.

“Facebook sees the metaverse as an opportunity to escape Apple’s walled garden (proprietary ecosystem) and create its own platform free of the App Store,” Mike Herrick, senior vice president of technology at app-experience platform Airship, told MarketWatch.

The message is inescapable in Silicon Valley. On highway U.S. 101, near Palo Alto, Calif., two billboards within 100 feet summarize the antagonisms: One positions iPhone as the privacy-first phone, the other from Meta preaches the benefits of end-to-end encryption.

The companies’ two chief executives, Apple’s Tim Cook and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, have lambasted one another repeatedly in recent years in the run-up to competing augmented-reality headsets expected in the next year, with last week’s moves the latest incident.

Apple’s 90-second “Your Data Is Being $old” TV spot, which…