Apple versus Facebook and WhatsApp privacy updates

Apple versus Facebook and WhatsApp privacy updates[ 7 min read ]

By now we’re sure that most of you will have heard about the privacy changes in both iOS 14 and Whatsapp, if you’ve not, then strap yourself in, it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride!

Let’s start with WhatsApp, that’s possibly easier, just!

What did the update say? 

At the start of January, users of WhatsApp started to see messages in their app about changes to privacy, which were due to take effect at the start of February. The wording of these changes was not exactly, clear, shall we say? 

This then resulted in a whole heap of people starting to question what they were actually going to do.

The initial, archived, privacy policy can be found here and even though we keep reading it, we’re still none the wiser! 

This ambiguous policy meant that people were left believing that Facebook was going to see all their message data and that there was nothing that they could do about it other than leaving the platform entirely. 

Of course, this went viral. 

The initial statement provoked such a panic, that other messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram picked up literally millions of user, 7.5 million and 25 million respectively in just three weeks! 

That is a lot of people to lose in such a short time.

What did they really mean?

Just a few days later the original change was announced, the changes were pushed back to May 2021. A statement was then released by WhatsApp. 

Essentially this statement suggested that all of us has misinterpreted what was to change, and that really it was nothing to do with our personal use of WhatsApp, but that the change of use was for businesses only. 

They stated that Facebook would not be able to see messages etc, but only that limited data would be shared with them. But given the number of issues that Facebook has had with data and privacy in the past, this is not likely to appease those who are already not fans of what Facebook is doing in general. 

For those of you not aware, it is worth pointing out that there is a business version of WhatsApp, but what has puzzled us, is that this privacy change was broadcast to personal users. Confused? We are too. 

The subsequent update from WhatsApp can be seen here, where they have attempted to answer the many concerns which had been raised by the tech press and users in the days following the announcement.

However, the argument seems to still be rumbling on with reports that the UK regulator is speaking to WhatsApp about them not sharing data with Facebook. 

If you’re not sure that you want to stay with WhatsApp, then there are other messaging apps available. I am currently trying out Signal, but there are loads of other ones available. The issue is that your friends need to be on them too if you’re going to be able to use them!

iOS14 and Facebook Ads

It definitely feels like there is a whole heap of activity around privacy right now, and Apple is no different. The latest version of iOS has been causing some excitement amongst social media experts, as is it going to affect how ads work for Apple users.

A bit about opting in and opting out

This may sound a bit like splitting hairs but there is a subtle difference between how Facebook and iOS are going to work. 

Facebook assuming that everyone is opting in unless otherwise stated, i.e. you have to tell them that you don’t want data collected at all. iOS 14 is the other way around. But the thing is, the average user on the street may not understand that and this is where there is an implication for Facebook (and Instagram) ads. 

So much so, that Facebook released this statement, and they’re really are not happy about it!

What does this mean for me, a business using Facebook ads?

Well, this is where it gets a bit tricky… and there is no real easy answer to this. So bear with us.

When you push out Facebook ads, you’re using targeting to reach the clients that you really want to reach. But when doing this, you have no real idea if these are iOS or Android users. Depending on what stats you look at, for the UK it’s around 50/50 as to which operating system is in use. Elsewhere, say for example the US, then it’s more like 60/40 in favour of iOS.

So far so good, but what you don’t know is if these iOS users have opted in or out.  

That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but the kicker in all this is then in what sort of ads these users then receive, assuming they’ve opted out at an iOS level. 

Facebook is concerned that smaller businesses will suffer, as fewer people are going to get these wonderfully targeted ads on their feed, which in turn may result in fewer sales. Which of course, given the situation we are in now, is going to harm some businesses.

Is there any good news?

Yes, we think there is, but it depends on your point of view. 

First of all, as far as we’re aware, this will not affect Facebook Pixel, or users using their desktops (we’re showing our age there!) to use Facebook. The changes are limited to iPhones, iPads and Apple TV only, so far. 

It’s also good news if you really hate the number of ads you get on your feed. There is a good chance that some of these changes will put people off using Facebook as part of their ads strategy, so there may be less to distract you from finding out what your friends are up too. 

However, there is some good news if you want your followers to continue to get ads. You can actually change some settings on your iPhone and hopefully, all will be OK! 

In conclusion, we think that there are going to be many changes around privacy across all manner of apps/websites in the coming months. Not only because of the UK leaving the EU, but also because people are becoming much more aware of what is happening with their data. 

We don’t always see this as a bad thing, however, given these two scenarios in this blog, it seems that there could be a lot more infighting from the major tech players to come.

Ultimately, it’s the users who end up stuck in the middle!

If you need some help with Facebook ads or just want a chat about your social media, then please get in touch using the contact form below.




Suzi Smart Bear

I'm Suzi - the owner of The Smart Bear.

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