Mark Zuckerberg slammed Apple over its plans to limit advertisers' ability to track iPhone users, claiming it would hurt small businesses.
"Actions planned by platform companies like Apple could have a meaningful negative effect on small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond," Zuckerberg told investors Thursday during Facebook's Q3 earnings call.
Facebook has previously warned that Apple's proposed changes could devastate its own ad business, which relies heavily on helping advertisers deliver precisely targeted ads.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took aim at Apple on Thursday over its plans to limit advertisers' ability to track iPhone users, suggesting the proposed changes could hurt small businesses and, by extention, the broader economy.
During Facebook's quarterly earnings call, Zuckerberg told investors that "actions planned by platform companies like Apple could have a meaningful negative effect on small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond."
Zuckerberg was referring to Apple's decision in iOS 14 — the latest version of its mobile operating system — to prevent apps from tracking users by using their unique device identifier, or IDFA, without their explicit permission. Apple announced the change earlier this summer but delayed it just before rolling out the iOS 14 software update to give advertisers more time to prepare.
Zuckerberg argued that "personalized advertising is helping small businesses find customers, grow their businesses and create jobs," and that measures to limit targeted ads, such as those by Apple and lawmakers in the European Union, would hurt those businesses' ability to reach customers.
Apple's privacy protections would also have a major impact on Facebook's own bottom line, which the social media giant itself has acknowledged. Following Apple's announcement earlier this summer, Facebook said it could see a 50% drop in iOS revenue for Audience Network, which helps the company target ads for advertisers, as a result of the changes, and may have to stop developing Audience Network for iOS altogether.
Facebook said Thursday that Apple's decision to delay the rollout of some changes means it likely won't feel the impact until Q1 2021, rather than Q4 2020, but that it will still be a "big challenge."
Zuckerberg also fielded questions Thursday about the prospect of increased regulation of the tech industry, reiterating his previous stance of embracing certain, more modest regulations, while remaining more hesitant around privacy protections.
"I continue to believe that we need new regulation that allows for personalized and relevant ads while protecting people's data and privacy," Zuckerberg said during the call.
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