Apple announced a number of significant upgrades across its family of operating systems at the recently concluded Worldwide Developers Conference, including iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and watchOS 5.
One of the more comedic highlights of the whole presentation was when Apple threw some serious shade at Facebook's sketchy tracking practices.
For years, the social network's sneakiest data collector has been its "Like" button. If a site wants healthy traffic, they'll embed this button into their pages. In order to use this button, a user needs to be logged in to their Facebook account, and long story short, this is how Facebook knows what the user has liked and how it gets a map of every Like-enabled site a user has been to — exactly the kind of information advertisers would kill to have.
That Moment When Apple Makes Fun Of Facebook
At its keynote, Apple addressed this practice directly. While explaining Safari's new anti-tracking features, software VP Craig Federighi used Like and Share buttons on sites as examples.
"Well it turns out, these [buttons] can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we're shutting that down," said Federighi.
When using Safari to visit sites that those buttons are installed, a popup now appears alerting the user that their activity will be tracked, and they have the option to allow that or not.
Facebook And Data Collection
Mark Zuckerberg and his company have become easy targets lately about this kind of shade-throwing, in large part because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that involved acquiring data from millions upon millions of Facebook users without their consent. The worst part was that Facebook knew but didn't care to inform its users about it until a number of publications exposed what had happened. Amid overwhelming criticism and scrutiny of Facebook's data collection practices, Zuckerberg faced U.S. Congress and clarified many things about the site, including security, data privacy, tracking, and many others.
How This Will Affect Advertising-Backed Companies
To be fair, Facebook isn't the only site that can collect data, and Apple acknowledges as such. As a company who doesn't rely on advertising for profit, Apple has the opportunity to take aim at and criticize Facebook, Google, and other advertising-backed entities for their data collection practices.
The anti-tracking feature on Safari is bad news for those companies because data collected from Like and Share buttons translates to ad dollars. Needless to say that the new security measures integrated into Safari will have a legitimate impact on Google's and Facebook's bottom line, as The Verge notes.
What do you think of the changes to Safari? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!