Facebook has been very active in its criticism of the new iPhone privacy measures that Apple planned for iOS 14 and eventually activated in iOS 14.5, and now we have a better idea why: the measures have cost the company money.
Facebook isn't alone in suffering this fate; other social media companies have also lost revenue following changes to Apple's mobile operating system. But perhaps not so much. Twitter, for one, recently claimed that the impact on its own bottom line was minimal.
The Financial Times [paywalled article] has investigated how much money is involved, and estimated how much revenue for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Google subsidiary YouTube has fallen following the launch of App Tracking Transparency, as the feature is known.
In total, the four are said to have lost nearly $10bn - roughly £7bn - in potential revenue.
According to the newspaper's report, Snapchat was the worst hit, due to the fact that the platform only exists on mobile and cannot track users in other ways. The report also says that Facebook is working to rebuild its entire infrastructure to sell advertising to iOS users.
In its criticisms of the measures, Facebook claimed to be standing up for smaller companies than itself. It created a web page headed Speaking Up for Small Businesses, and argued that "Apple's new iOS 14 policy will have a harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat." The FT's numbers suggest that Facebook's motivations may have had more to do with the success of a rather larger business: itself.
To give both sides of the argument, we should add that Tim Cook responded to Facebook's criticisms by pointing out that "Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites as before, App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 will just require that they ask for your permission first." You can read more of his rebuttal here.