Facebook and Apple are in a fight. Your browsing history is in the middle.


Apple and Facebook are going to need each other in the long run, because billions of people want their social media apps to work well on their phones and tablets. But first, the two California tech giants need to settle a brawl that’s playing out in newspaper ads, industry meetings and potentially federal court.



Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg that are looking at the camera


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Facebook on Thursday ran its second full-page newspaper advertisement in as many days, attacking Apple’s plans to tell iPhone and iPad users when apps are tracking them online.

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“Apple plans to roll out a forced software update that will change the internet as we know it — for the worse,” Facebook said in the ad.

It’s a high-stakes and unusually personal fight between two companies that have wide-reaching influence. At the center of the battle is how the advertising-dependent part of the internet is going to work in the years ahead.

In the next few weeks, Apple is planning to roll out a new feature on its devices that will alert people when an app such as Facebook is trying to “track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” People will have options such as “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow.”

“Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not,” Apple said in a statement. “App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.”

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For Facebook, the possibility that many people will disallow tracking threatens one of the data streams that make its advertising business so lucrative. Facebook uses data such as browsing history to show people ads they’re more likely to want to see, and to prove to marketers that its ads are working.

“Apple’s move isn’t about privacy, it’s about profit,” Facebook said in a statement. It argues that Apple stands to gain if more of…

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