What is App Tracking Transparency and Why Facebook is objecting to it

Alan Joseph Alan Joseph
May 4, 2021 5 min read
What is App Tracking Transparency and Why Facebook is objecting to it

Apple has recently released an update to its iPhone’s operating system which consists of app tracking transparency. It is said to have affected Facebook’s business model. Let’s look at what exactly is app transparency and the new update which can be accessed by the Apple users across the globe.

About iOS 14.5
App Tracking Transparency
How does App Transparency Work
Restrictions by Apple
Steps taken by Apple
Why is Facebook objecting it
FAQ

About iOS 14.5

Apple has rolled out a new update to its iPhone users operating system - iOS 14.5. The update features a new batch of emojis according to the current requirement. Other than the emojis the main highlight of the update is the introduction of app transparency in the apps.

This new update is considered very significant for some users whereas less fun for others. This new feature is considered to be a guide of privacy which is user-oriented in the new era.

Not everyone is happy with the new update which is rolled out by Apple especially Facebook. The social media giant’s business model completely depends on tracking the user’s data in order to sell personalized and targeted ads.

The new update provides you with an option to choose whether the mobile applications can track your online habits or not.


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App Tracking Transparency

Apple’s iPhone is well known for its privacy features in the market. The new update is another step taken by Apple to be recognized globally as the platform for privacy. The new feature which is rolled out by Apple will display a notification that will pop up on the screen.

Apple App Tracking Transparency
Apple App Tracking Transparency

The notification will explain what data the mobile application wants to collect from your device and what it intends to do with the collected information. In order to gain the access to the new feature, the users will have to just keep their phone updated and install the new iOS update. On most of the devices, the new feature will get updated automatically.

Once the new feature is updated, the already installed mobile application will display an option on whether you would want to opt in or opt out of the new feature.

How does App Transparency Work

Apple has provided an explanation which says the new update on tracking the transparency of the apps is through an API (Application Programming Interface). The developers use this as a set of programming commands in order to interact with the operating system.

The API will provide the software developers a few functions that is preprocessed. This will allow the developers to request authorization for tracking or check the status of authorization using tracking managers for every single mobile application.

This feature also means that the operating system will have a base location that will store and check on what permissions have been granted to all the applications on the device. The downside of this feature is that there is no physical mechanism that will stop the tracking of a user by the apps.

The transparency of the tracking of apps is a framework of just a pop-up box.


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Restrictions by Apple

If you choose the option app not to track and if the specified mobile app is using legitimate advertising identifiers on the device then when you choose the option no, the application will set the identifiers of advertising into zero. The apps that honor Apple’s tracking policy will reduce the capabilities of tracking.

But if a mobile app does not honor the tracking policy of apple and is determined to track the user’s activities then they could use different techniques which will help them track the user’s data. This will make it difficult for Apple to detect or prevent the mobile app from tracking the data of the users.


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Steps taken by Apple

Apple is likely to find out and make it hard for the mobile app developers who would not play by the rules set by Apple. Apple had updated its Guidelines for its App Store recently which is completely concentrated on the developers.

According to the new Guidelines the app developers should receive clear permissions from the users through Apple’s API for tracking the transparency of apps to track the activity of the users.

Why is Facebook objecting it

Facebook has an objection regarding the new operating system update that is rolled out by Apple. Facebook’s major revenue is through the data it collects from its users. The new feature is a threat to the social media giant's revenue generation as the company’s main source of revenue is through the sales of targeted ads. The revenue Facebook generated through advertisements during the year 2020 was more than USD 80 billion.

FAQ

What is app tracking transparency?

App tracking ensures that any app must ask you for permission before tracking your activity outside of its own app.

What is going on with Facebook and Apple?

Facebook says Apple is attempting to push free apps, which often sweep data up and feed it to advertisers, to move to subscription models.

How will iOS 14 affect Facebook?

Apple's iOS 14 will affect the way you use Facebook Ads. Going forward, the SKAdNetwork API will be used by Facebook for app advertising on all iOS 14 devices, and this will either restrict, aggregate, or delay all app event data.

Conclusion

Apple’s step is well positioned to delivering the privacy required for its users. However, the feature is optional and the users will have the choice to opt in or out of it. This can not be considered as an end to the advertising of the digital world as we receive free access to all the services because of their advertisements.

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