Strategy + 

Apple iOS 14 Privacy, Facebook, VIA and You


Ben Wilson
Ben Wilson

on 1/28/2021


That’s the tweet.

After years of complaints, lawsuits, and generally just an overriding icky feeling about the hyper-specific ads you receive on social media, one company (Apple) is finally providing tools for individuals to control the data you share with the apps you use. And they are doing it at the phone level. (The Wirecutter has a breakdown of all of the privacy controls in iOS 14 here)

The iOS 14 privacy updates were ready last fall, but Apple delayed to give developers more time to implement the required changes to their apps.

Well, that time is right now - Apple has started rolling out iOS 14.4 to most devices.

And Facebook is freaked out by it.

Why? Well, mostly because these changes will dramatically impact the estimated $70 billion plus in revenue they’ll make each year - 99% of which comes from ads.

They are the top player in social media advertising, and that is largely because they have an incredibly effective targeting system based upon your user data. Data that is not only collected when you use the app - but when you are logged into Facebook and visit some of the 9 million websites that have the Facebook pixel installed.

Their business model is based upon you willingly giving your data to them.

And now, if you have an Apple mobile device, you’ll have a choice.

For an Agency Who Uses Facebook Ads, You Seem Awful Happy About This! What gives?

Fair question - and it is true that Facebook ads are most often our first recommendation to most businesses. They offer robust, flexible targeting that most often gets our clients the most results for the least money on the most platforms. For the non-profits and small to mid-sized businesses that make up our clients, that’s huge.


We are still people, and as individuals, we’ve all seen advertising that ranges from curious (hyper-personalized ads for things you mentioned in passing your Alexa) to caustic (the 2016 and 2020 election cycles).

As an agency, we understand that targeting by its own definition is discriminatory, so we tread carefully there - trying hard to exclude only when there is a compelling need to. But regardless of this, we’ve seen Facebook’s ad targeting be overly focused on certain demographics, despite our best efforts.

And we’ve been paying attention as Facebook refuses to acknowledge or truly address these issues, even after countless Congressional hearings and being successfully sued over its targeting practices.

And don’t get us started on the “not our problem” approach to content moderation that has been a major cause of division and disinformation.

This sort of behavior, especially with a platform that is as large and frankly critical to many, demands critical attention and action.

So What Now

Like it or not, for our clients, Facebook is still extremely effective. It sells tickets to non-profit events. It drives enrollments in education. It sells art as well as it sells ice makers. It works, and it is extremely cost effective.

We’ll still continue to use Facebook for ads, but we’ll also continue to be critical here and in our communications directly to them.

While these iOS 14 controls are a first step by one company, it is part of a larger shift to provide user-side control of user data.

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