Facebook boss Zuckerberg declares Apple a big rival

Facebook has grown unchecked so far in the Corona pandemic. But the world's largest online network is bracing itself for headwinds. And it's coming from Apple, among others. Now Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attacked Apple as sharply as never before.


Apple will soon give users new ways to limit data collection on iPhones. They will be able to more easily prevent apps and advertising services from collecting information about their behavior across the boundaries of individual apps and websites. Apple's plan is that each app will have to ask users for permission to access it.

Facebook fears that personalization of advertising will become less accurate due to less knowledge about people. Yet the promise to advertisers to precisely target the desired audience is a cornerstone of Facebook's business model. Apple confirmed on Thursday that the plan for iPhone and iPad will be implemented despite Facebook's objection.

The iPhone company also went on the offensive and denounced the fact that hundreds of data traders were collecting information about users via trackers hidden in apps - in some cases without their knowledge. Among other things, they recorded the whereabouts of users in order to use them for advertising.

Zuckerberg and Facebook had already criticized in recent months that poorer personalized advertising would hurt small and medium-sized companies in particular. And yet, especially in the Corona crisis, they depend on the online network as a platform for their business. Facebook collects data from various sources "to help small businesses reach their customers more efficiently," Zuckerberg said. The accusation is that Apple's actions could slow down the entire economy.


Apple pursues its own interests, according to Zuckerberg

But the Facebook chief took his criticism up a notch. "Apple may claim they're doing it to help people - but their moves clearly follow their competitive interests," Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts after presenting recent quarterly figures. "I want to emphasize that we increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors."

Zuckerberg specifically took a shot at Apple's iMessage chat service, which competes with Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger offerings. The Apple service is preinstalled on all iPhones and is preferred there, he criticized. He also attacked Apple's stance on data privacy. Thanks to full encryption, chat content on WhatsApp is basically only available to the parties involved in plain text, the Facebook boss stressed. But Apple, he said, stores iMessage backups without end-to-end encryption on its servers by default unless people turn off the iCloud service. "Apple and governments have the ability to get access to most people's messages," Zuckerberg said.

WhatsApp recently struggled with an exodus of users after new privacy rules were published. They feared that more data would be shared with Facebook. Facebook stressed that the changes would only apply to communications between companies and their customers on WhatsApp. Zuckerberg now tried again to "clear up confusion": "This update does not change the privacy of chats with friends and family," he said. "All of these messages have end-to-end encryption, which means we can't see or hear what's being said. And we never will." (SDA)

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