Facebook Cries Foul on Behalf of Small Businesses … and it’s Bunk

When Apple released its 14.3 iOS update in mid-December, it included an awesome feature that makes it easy to see exactly how each app is using your personal data. 

Facebook wasn’t amused, as Jack Morse noted in Mashable. 

While consumers reeled trying to absorb the extent of privacy intrusion, Facebook went on the offensive, claiming Apple’s exposure of data usage harms small businesses.

“The really repugnant part of Facebook’s campaign is that it exploits the very thing it claims it wants to protect: small businesses,” writes Joe Mandese in MediaPost.

“In ads, online videos, and in briefings with the press,” he continues, “Facebook’s management has sought to attack Apple’s steps to safeguard its users personal data by asserting it will hurt small businesses that have come to depend on that data to create ‘personalized’ ads that are more effective than ads that are not able to use the personal data of Apple’s consumers.”

Facebook says losing this personal data means its ads will be 50 – 60% less effective, “implying that is enough of a loss to impact the margins of the small businesses who are just squeaking by on Facebook advertising.”

Rubbish, says Mandese. 

“There are so many problems with this logic, but let’s start with the main one,” he writes. “The biggest loser in this equation isn’t the small businesses that advertise on Facebook, it’s Facebook itself. That’s because most small businesses pay Facebook on some form of cost-per-action or -conversion, metric, meaning if the ads are half as effective as they were before, Facebook will generate about half the revenue from them.”

Mandese believes Facebook is just being lazy and worst of all, trying to exploit the economic duress of small businesses trying to survive a pandemic without doing any heavy lifting of its own, he writes.

“If Facebook really cared about small businesses,” he continues, “there are plenty of other things it can do to help them get by. How about offering them a ‘stimulus package’ including free or subsidized Facebook ads until they get through this crisis?”

Meanwhile, both sides are no doubt lawyering up but don’t expect Facebook to win any kind of victory on this one. Users have an absolute right to know what a service is doing with its data. If exposing that information means they choose to leave the service, then it is what it is. Enough already.