The Price of Privacy

An inkling into the profits that “social” media companies that collect and sell our data was gained from the most recent regulatory filings by Facebook/Meta and SnapChat. Both companies placed a fairly specific dollar value on the revenues they lost ever since Apple made it nearly impossible for these companies to track customers across apps on iPhones and iPads. If $10 billion per quarter is any indication, then perhaps these companies should be paying their users $100 each every quarter for the privilege of tracking them.

The second half of 2021 has not been kind to tech giants that rely on ad targeting thanks to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy.

Source: Apple’s Privacy Policy Cost Snap, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube an Estimated $9.85 Billion in Revenue

The FAANG Wars Escalate

The war between Apple and Microsoft on one side, and Amazon, Facebook and Google on the other officially started in September of last year, and they just escalated with Apple’s release of iOS 14.5. Apple’s declaration that it will end app tracking–the practice of allowing the developer of one mobile phone application to be able to use your mobile device to track your activity in other applications you use on the mobile phone and to correlate your activity with your browsing habits on your computer and phone–is a major pillar of the business model of companies like Facebook and Google who collect this information in order to target ads at you specifically.

The practice goes much further, however. Both companies build “psychographical” profiles of users with such tracking information and use these models to control what each user sees. App tracking is thus one of the many elements of control through which Google and Facebook control the total user experience: they tailor the content they place before you in order to elicit the emotional response that will trigger you to click the ads they have included in the content they place before you. This is why, for example, Google is estimated to collect 20 times as much data as Apple does. It sounds sinister, and it is. (In the case of Amazon, this information is used to display search results that will maximize Amazon’s profit on the sale, not the value for the customer.)

Continue reading “The FAANG Wars Escalate”

FAANG Go to War

Apple was the instigator, and the fire has been fueled by two explosive books about Facebook’s abhorrent behavior–‘Zucked by Roger McNamee–and about the exploitative nature of the free internet in general–Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier. The battle lines have been drawn, and Apple and Microsoft are unofficially allied against Google, Facebook, especially, and, to a lesser extent, Amazon. Let’s examine this battle two ways: idealistically and cynically.

Continue reading “FAANG Go to War”