What the Tech? How Does App Tracking Work?
If you updated an iPhone recently you’ve probably seen this pop-up message a few times. Specifically when you’ve opened Facebook, Instagram, or a few other apps for the first time.
It’s a new requirement for apps that track users, to ask for permission before doing so. Thus far, reports show 95% of iPhone users in the U.S, say no.
The statistic is from Flurry Analytics based on the settings across 2 billion iOS devices.
Facebook is clearly opposed to giving users the option. When opening the Facebook or Instagram app for the first time after updating to iOS 14.5, users are notified that allowing Facebook to gather and share your information, can deliver more personalized ads and, a big one: keep Instagram and Facebook free of charge.
Facebook may not entirely be blowing smoke here. Targeted ads are a major reason some businesses advertise on Facebook. Particularly small, local businesses.
Say I’m buying an ad on Facebook for the What the Tech Facebook page. I can target demographics such as age, gender, and location. I can also target by interests.
Rather than paying for an ad that reaches 600,000 Facebook users at random, I could target the ads to people who are interested in smartphones, or smart TVs.
That information is gathered by Facebook having access to users’ iPhone data such as websites they visit. The ad is more
valuable and attractive to businesses.
What you should know:
● Giving apps permission to track means they can see which websites you visit on your device.
● Opting out, or turning off tracking, won’t keep you from getting ads, they won’t necessarily be things you’ve shown an interest in.
● Permission is based on Apple ID. If you give permission on an iPhone, permission is also granted on any other device using that Apple ID
● Facebook can still see what websites you visit on a computer or laptop
● You can review and change permissions through the Privacy tab in settings by selecting “Tracking”
So, should you allow these apps to track your phone usage or not?
I cannot advise you either way. Facebook has a history of divulging or leaking data without notifying users so if that is your concern you probably have turned off tracking already.
Will enabling tracking really help local businesses? Yes. If a local bicycle store wants to reach bike enthusiasts in your area, it will be cost-effective for the shop to reach potential customers.