Facebook tests pop-up for iPhone users before ad tracking update

Facebook Inc. is testing a new full-screen prompt for iPhone users about the social network’s data collection in an effort to get ahead of a similar pop-up that Apple Inc. will soon require as part of an operating system software update.

The iOS 14 update, which hasn’t been rolled out yet for iPhones and iPads, will require app developers like Facebook to show users a pop-up asking for permission to “track you across apps and websites.” If users reject the request, it will be harder for Facebook to show those people targeted ads, which make up the bulk of the company’s revenue. Facebook executives have argued the pop-up’s language is alarmist, and worry that it will discourage people from accepting it.

So Facebook is testing its own prompt that will appear before users see the one from Apple. It asks for similar permissions, but frames them as a way to “get ads that are more personalized” and “support businesses that rely on ads to reach customers.”

“Apple’s new prompt suggests there is a tradeoff between personalized advertising and privacy; when in fact, we can and do provide both,” Facebook wrote in a blog post Monday. “The Apple prompt also provides no context about the benefits of personalized ads.”

Facebook has fought the iOS 14 changes publicly, and has repeatedly criticized Apple for its plan to implement them. In December, it ran full-page ads in a number of prominent U.S. newspapers criticizing Apple over the planned update.

The Apple pop-up isn’t yet required of apps, but Facebook said it will test its message to learn more about how users respond before the privacy rule kicks in.

The new label is intended to help people understand how their data is being shared and better protect their privacy, Apple has said. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook last week accused big tech companies, without naming them, of “data exploitation” by selling user information to target ads.

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