Leaked Facebook memo reveals how advertisers will be impacted following iOS 14.5 release

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9to5Mac 28 April, 2021 - 07:49pm 33 views

Where is app tracking transparency?

Now that your device is running iOS 14.5, make sure App Tracking Transparency is enabled. The feature should automatically be enabled upon download the latest software version. Go to Settings>Privacy>Tracking and turn on the feature if not enabled. The Indian ExpressHow to stop apps tracking you with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature

What is the IOS 14.5 update?

Apple iOS 14.5 update includes diverse Siri voices, map upgrades and way to unlock your phone with Apple Watch. If you follow Apple, you're aware its latest update delivers significant privacy changes. USA TODAYApple iOS 14.5 update includes diverse Siri voices, map upgrades and way to unlock your phone with Apple Watch

Parler app risks charges of selling out with Apple return | TheHill

The Hill 29 April, 2021 - 12:01am

Parler is returning to Apple’s App Store after making some changes demanded by the company, but the social media platform popular with conservatives is facing accusations of selling out to Big Tech and risks losing some of its key user base.

Parler rose in popularity after the 2020 election, boosted by high-profile conservative figures who railed against mainstream platforms’ content moderation policies. After a nearly four-month ban, prompted by Parler posts surrounding the deadly riot at the Capitol, the app is set to relaunch in the App Store this week.

“It will be interesting to see whether or not ... there will be the same drive for people to join Parler this time around,” said Bret Schafer, Alliance for Securing Democracy’s media and digital disinformation fellow.

“Because maybe it will have lost some of its allure and it will just be seen as a slightly less content-moderation-heavy space as the Twitters and the Facebooks and the places that those people were fleeing from the first time,” he added.

Parler marketed itself as a pro-free speech alternative to mainstream platforms and appealed to conservatives who said they were fed up with apps like Twitter and Facebook over unsubstantiated accusations that the social media giants were biased against conservative content.

Last week, Apple told top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees that it will allow Parler to return to its App Store with approved content moderation updates made since the social media platform was removed in January, after the insurrection at the Capitol. Apple at the time said Parler had “not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation” of threats of violence leading up to the riot.

Buck cheered the move as a “huge win for free speech” and urged Amazon and Google to take action to reverse the measures they took against Parler.

“It’s time for Google and Amazon to follow Apple’s lead. Stop the censorship,” Buck said in a statement.

Lee similarly hailed Apple’s response, tweeting: “Conservative speech must not be silenced.”

But Andrew Torba, CEO and founder of fringe social media platform Gab — billed as “The Free Speech Social Network” — wrote a blog post blasting the return to the App Store.

“Parler bent the knee and Big Tech has them under their thumb,” Torba wrote.

In the blog post, Torba touted Gab’s own ban from the major app stores as a “badge of honor” showing the platform’s willingness to stand up for “free speech” and against Big Tech.

“Gab stands alone in the market as the leader and home of free speech online. Not only was Gab’s app banned from both App Stores, but our entire Developer Account was banned from ever submitting apps to those stores ever again. So be it, we wear that as a badge of honor and it should be a sign to those of you reading this that we are and always have been serious about our mission,” Torba wrote.

Users on Gab criticized Parler for what they said was selling out, pledging not to return.

It’s “very possible” users may follow through on their pledges to stay off Parler when it returns to the App Store, said Max Rizzuto, a research assistant at the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab.

“I do think that some people will push back on the notion that, if Parler is back on the Apple App Store, what does that say about what happened to Parler?” Rizzuto said.

Parler maintained in its post announcing it would relaunch in the App Store this week that it did not “make changes to its broad policies to create a free and open platform without viewpoint censorship and committed to the First Amendment rights of its users.”

“Parler has and will always be a free and open forum where users could engage in the free exchange of ideas in the full spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Parler’s interim CEO, Mark Meckler, said in a statement. “We have worked to put in place systems that will better detect unlawful speech and allow users to filter content undesirable to them, while maintaining our strict prohibition against content moderation based on viewpoint.”

Neither Parler’s statement nor Apple’s letter to the Republicans confirming the approved return detailed what changes will be put in place in terms of content moderation. Spokespeople for Apple and Parler did not respond to requests for comment asking for details on the approved changes.

Parler said that some posts that will be prohibited in the App Store version of Parler will remain visible on the web-based version of Parler that has relaunched after it was pulled by Amazon’s web hosting service in January. That pledge raised red flags for critics who doubt Parler’s commitment to root out problematic content.

As Torba and Gab users chastise Parler’s changes for the App Store, the platform is still facing criticism from activists who said they are skeptical Parler will make meaningful changes to address concerns they had before it was banned about the spread of misinformation and hate speech on the platform.

“What happens moving forward if they continue to allow content that breaks Apple’s policies? What’s the policy moving forward? Because if they’re not going to enforce it, that’s a whole other story,” said Matt Rivitz, director of Sleeping Giants. The activist group pushed for Parler’s removal from app stores in January.

Jessica González, co-CEO of Free Press, said she’s “very skeptical” that Parler intends to comply with the App Store’s terms of service.

“We’ve seen this play time and again across social media companies,” she said. “They make certain commitments to appease — whether it be advertisers or in this case distributors — and they do that so that they can continue to make money by proliferating hate, violence, racism, disinformation. Which is really what Parler’s famous for. In fact, the very purpose of Parler is people can say whatever they want even if what they’re saying is advocating for legitimizing violence or normalizing racism or spreading lies about the pandemic or the election.”

González also co-founded Change the Terms, a coalition of more than 60 civil and digital rights groups. The coalition in November, before the Capitol riot, sent a letter to Apple calling for the tech giant to remove the Parler app, which it described as a “haven for white supremacists” where users “regularly engage in violent and disturbing activity.”

Given the recent history, González said she wants to see more accountability from Apple as Parler returns.

“What are they going to do to keep people safe? What kind of commitments have they heard from Parler and why are those good enough? What reason has Parler given anyone to trust them?” González said.

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Australia calls for more transparency from Apple and Google over app store practices

XDA Developers 29 April, 2021 - 12:01am

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The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a report on Wednesday highlighting what it claims are significant issues with how Apple and Google operate its app stores. In particular, the consumer watchdog is deeply concerned by the amount of control these companies exert over third parties that wish to offer its apps in these app stores, and the advantages its own apps have. The ACCC said that because of the “significant market power” Apple and Google wield over third parties, measures are needed to make changes.

“Apple and Google’s stores are the gateways between consumers and app developers, and it’s true that they provide considerable benefits to both groups,” the ACCC said. “But there are significant issues with how this market is operating.”

The ACCC said it’s concerned over Apple and Google potentially promoting its apps over the competition, and the strict terms that are set for competitors just to be accepted into these app stores. In an effort to address this, the ACCC is calling on both companies to be more transparent, specifically about how third-party apps are made discoverable to consumers.

Another concern focuses on how Apple and Google force developers to use its own payment systems for any in-app purchases — something that developers, including Epic Games, has also taken issue with. Additionally, the ACCC has said that consumers should have the ability to change or remove any pre-installed or default apps. If Apple and Google don’t make changes, they may be forced to comply.

“The ACCC has put forward a series of potential measures in response to its findings, including that consumers be able to rate and review all apps, that consumers have the ability to change any pre-installed default app on their device, that app developers be allowed to provide consumers with information about alternative payment options and that information collected by Apple and Google in their capacity as app marketplace operators be ring-fenced from their other operations.”

In a statement to Gizmodo, Apple said it welcomed the opportunity to discuss its policies with the ACCC.

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Apple Faces German Antitrust Backlash Amid Privacy Changes

Law.com 29 April, 2021 - 12:01am

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Facebook expects ad tracking problems from regulators and Apple

The Verge 28 April, 2021 - 04:06pm

Why Facebook is so frustrated with iOS 14.5

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“We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes,” Facebook CFO Dave Wehner writes in the company’s Q1 2021 earnings release. Wehner specifically calls out iOS 14.5, which includes a feature that lets iPhone and iPad users easily stop apps from tracking them in certain ways. Facebook expects to start seeing an impact from the changes to iOS right away.

Facebook believes its ad revenue will continue to grow over the rest of 2020 even with those changes, but it sees a slowdown coming in the second half of the year. Mostly, Facebook says, that’s because it did so well last year during the pandemic. But regulatory factors and Apple’s changes will play a role.

The new update requires apps like Facebook to proactively ask users to consent to being tracked for the purpose of advertising. Facebook and other companies expect a lot of people to opt out, and there’s a possibility that’ll hurt their ability to accurately target ads. Facebook has criticized the feature as a threat to the businesses that rely on those ads. “Apple’s latest update threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers,” a Facebook website reads.

On a call with investors, Facebook executives said the company was working on improvements to its ad tech that would allow for better ad targeting even with access to less data. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg framed it as a “rebuilding” of the company’s tech; Wehner said Facebook was “making progress” on solutions with the goal to “maintain and even improve performance” in the long run.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s data protection leader has recommended a ban on ad targeting that’s based on tracked web activity. European lawmakers are planning a significant overhaul of digital marketplace regulations, and Facebook could come out with fewer available tools to target ads to individual users.

But for the moment, Facebook continues to grow on all major counts. Daily users across Facebook’s family of products hit 2.72 billion, up from 2.6 billion at the end of the prior quarter, while monthly users hit 3.45 billion.

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ACCC wants users to be able to replace iOS and Android default apps | ZDNet

ZDNet 28 April, 2021 - 02:18am

Australia's competition watchdog wants to see Apple and Google provide for greater choice of default apps for consumers.

"There is a need for consumers to have more choice through an ability to change any preinstalled default app on their device that is not a core phone feature," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said. "This would provide consumers with more control to choose the app that best meets their needs, and promote more robust competition in downstream markets for apps."

The remarks were made in its report into app marketplaces, which echoed much of what it has said before: That the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store dominate mobile app distribution.

The report [PDF] follows a probe into the competition and consumer issues associated with the distribution of mobile apps to users of smartphones and other mobile devices. The ACCC announced the investigation was underway in September, as part of its greater Digital Platform Services Inquiry, which was responsible for the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

The 165-page report breaks down the market power of each Apple and Google in the app marketplace; the terms of access to app marketplaces for app developers, including payment arrangements; the effectiveness of self-regulation, including arrangements to deal with harmful apps and consumer complaints; and concerns with alleged self-preferencing and the use of data.

"These issues affect competition with potentially significant impacts for both app developers and consumers," the report said.

The report contains five further measures the ACCC believes can address the issues it outlines. These include addressing payment option limitations; increasing transparency and addressing risk of self-preferencing; and limiting the access to data by third-parties.

Globally, when excluding China, the Android OS and Apple's iOS, account for close to 100% of the market for mobile operating systems; Google has approximately 73% of this market and Apple has around 27%.

In Australia, the split is close to 50/50.

"Apple and Google's dominance in mobile OS, combined with the control exerted over the app marketplaces permitted into their mobile ecosystems, means that the App Store and the Play Store control the key gateways through which app developers can access consumers on mobile devices," the report says.

In assessing the competitive implications of the practices and policies at both tech giants -- such as terms and conditions, alleged self-preferencing, data generated from third-party apps, and in-app payments -- the ACCC said it is important to recognise that competition occurs, or can occur, at two levels.

"At one level there is competition between mobile ecosystems. At another level there is competition within Apple and Google's mobile ecosystems," it wrote.

The ACCC declared both app marketplaces possess unfair terms including restrictions on the ability of app developers to access the users of their apps; a lack of transparency in the policies and processes governing Apple and Google's app review and approval process; and inadequate avenues to resolve disputes.

Many months back, the ACCC toyed with the idea of stepping in to develop a set of minimum internal dispute resolution standards to apply to digital platforms, covering among other things, the visibility, accessibility, responsiveness, objectivity, confidentiality, and collection of information of digital platforms' internal dispute resolution processes. Similarly, with the introduction of external oversight of the digital platforms to resolve complaints between platforms and businesses and platforms and consumers via an ombudsman scheme.

"These recommendations may assist in the context of concerns raised in relation to app marketplaces, as they could help ensure Apple and Google address concerns raised by third-party app developers about the app review process," the report said.

It also considers that greater transparency and more information on the operation of app discoverability mechanisms, as well as a level playing field for apps to receive consumer ratings and reviews, would go some way to addressing app developer concerns with self-preferencing.

Where data practices are concerned, similar to the issue of self-preferencing, the ACCC considers that Apple and Google may have the ability and the incentive to use information to assist strategic or commercial decisions about first-party app development.

Currently, app developers cannot publish and distribute an app on an Apple mobile device without using the Apple App Store. Developers who offer "in-app" features, add-ons, or upgrades are required to use Apple's payment system, rather than an alternative system.

Apple also charges a commission of up to 30% -- or 15% in the case of subscription services -- to developers on the value of these transactions or any time a consumer buys their app. So does Google.

"App developers should not be restricted from providing users with information about alternative payment options. This would provide greater choice and potentially lower prices to consumers and allow app developers greater scope to innovate," the ACCC summarised.

Elsewhere in the report, the ACCC said it remains concerned with the tracking of consumers through apps; it also considers that consumers must have adequate access to avenues for redress from app marketplaces for losses caused by malicious apps, low quality apps, unauthorised billing issues, and where they are otherwise entitled to a remedy under the Australian Consumer Law.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said the watchdog will also take into account "significant proposals and law changes" in other countries that have identified similar concerns, such as the United Kingdom's Apple App Store investigation, when it moves to act on the findings of its app marketplace report.

Telling the ACCC that users of iOS can go to a website to purchase and consume digital content or services, in its argument centred on discrediting the belief that Apple has market power.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Match Group, and even Huawei have weighed in on the ACCC's probe into app marketplaces.

The watchdog takes issue with Google's advertising monopoly, and wants to give others access to the data it has.

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Will Apple’s tighter privacy rules for ads hurt Facebook?

The Economist 27 April, 2021 - 07:00pm

On April 26th Apple, which supplies one-fifth of the world’s smartphones and around half of America’s, introduced a software update that will end much of this snooping. Its latest mobile operating system forces apps to ask users if they want to be tracked. Many will decline. It is the latest move forcing marketers to rethink how they target online ads.

By micro-profiling audiences and monitoring their behaviour, digital ad platforms claim to solve advertisers’ age-old quandary of not knowing which half of their budget is being wasted. In the past decade digital ads have gone from less than 20% of the global ad market to more than 60%, according to GroupM, the world’s largest media buyer. Even last year, amid the pandemic, the business grew by 9%. As lockdowns ease it is going gangbusters. On April 27th Alphabet, Google’s parent company and the world’s biggest digital ad platform, reported first-quarter ad revenues up by 34%, year-on-year. The next day Facebook, the second-largest, said its own ad revenues had grown by 46%.

Stronger privacy protections may make their ads less effective. In 2018 the EU imposed its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and America’s most-populous state introduced the California Consumer Privacy Act. Both made it harder to harvest users’ data. Apple’s Safari web browser has blocked the “cookies” that advertisers use to see what people get up to online since 2020. Google has similar plans for its more popular Chrome browser.

Apple’s latest change makes explicit an option that was previously hidden deep in its phones’ settings. Users can forbid apps to access their “identifier for advertisers” (IDFA) code, which singles out their device, and from tracking their activity across other firms’ apps and websites. It amounts to a “seismic shift” in in-app advertising, says Jon Mew, head of the Internet Advertising Bureau, an industry body

The platforms best-placed to survive the shake-out are those with lots of consumer data of their own. Google’s $147bn ad business gets most of the information it needs from the terms users type into its search bar. Amazon, whose digital-ad business is the third-largest and growing fast, has the advantage of being able to track what people buy after seeing ads on its site—a “closed loop”, as marketers call it. Apple knows where iPhone-users go, what time they wake up and much besides. It has a small but growing ad business, selling prominence in its app store, for instance.

For Facebook, which knows more about its users’ interests than about their shopping needs, Apple’s changes are more worrying. In August it warned they might reduce revenues at its Audience Network, through which it sells ads to other apps, by as much as 50%. But the Audience Network represents less than a tenth of its business. Thanks to its deep knowledge of users, it will still be better at targeting than almost anyone else. “In a world with a lot less data, who has relatively more?” asks Brian Wieser of GroupM. The effect of GDPR was, if anything, to increase Facebook’s and Google’s market shares, he adds.

To improve its tracking of purchases, Facebook is moving to create a closed loop of its own. Last year it introduced Facebook Shops on its flagship social network and Instagram Shops and ts sister photo-sharing app. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, speculated in March that “we may even be in a stronger position if Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct more commerce on our platforms, by making it harder for them to use their data…outside of our platforms”.

Not every ad platform will be able to adapt as easily. Smaller publishers with fewer data and resources will suffer, believes Nicole Perrin of eMarketer, a research firm. Publishers that rely on third-party cookies will be hit hardest. The day Apple launched its new policy, a group of German publishing companies lodged a legal complaint with Germany’s antitrust authorities. Small platforms may also find it harder to persuade phone users to trust them with their data. AppsFlyer, an ad-tech company, found that iPhone users agreed to tracking from shopping and finance apps more than 40% of the time, but 12% of the time with casual gaming apps.

The inability to share data is forcing advertisers to come up with new ruses. One is to bypass rules banning data transfers between ad-tech companies by consolidating. In February AppLovin, a mobile-software company, acquired Adjust, which provides mobile-ad attribution, reportedly for $1bn. Another is to ask users to “sign in”, which lets an app monitor their behaviour with no need for IDFAs. And instead of targeting individuals, marketers can target broader interest groups—coffee lovers, Daily Mail readers, and so on—much as they did in the pre-internet age. It’s “back to the future”, says Mr Wieser.

In another throwback, advertisers will have to resort to old-school techniques for gauging ads’ effectiveness, such as looking for a rise in sales in a region where an ad ran but not elsewhere. That will favour campaigns which promote general awareness of a company’s brand; effects of so-called direct-response ads, which require consumers to take an action (like clicking), would be too small to measure. Platforms that mostly attract brand advertising will thus benefit. Snap, whose social network popular among teenagers belongs to that group, posted a year-on-year rise in revenues of 66% in the first quarter.

The less advertisers know about their audience, the costlier advertising will become. Facebook has argued this will hurt small businesses. It is probably right, thinks William Merchan of Pathmatics, a data company. Digital ads promise to cut waste in media buys, he says. Now that ad firms are again in the dark about which half of their budget is wasted, they are “going to have to just spend more”.

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