Apple Is Crippling Instagram for Good
Apple’s battle with Facebook over privacy concerns is going on for a while now. The iOS 14 which caused all this ruckus among the two tech giants is gearing up to get a new update. Appropriately named iOS 15 is rumored to get many improvements and privacy enhancements.
Features aside, the future of apps on your iOS devices could very well change for good with iOS 15’s privacy and security improvements. Back in 2020, iOS 14 poised to cripple advertisement agencies such as Facebook, which allow developers to use their SDKs to track and send your data to the tech giants and third-party brokers. Which became a major talking point of that year and still is.
Now it looks like it’s time for Instagram. Apple’s upcoming iOS 15 set to release with iPhone 13 could very well spell doom for Instagram and its parent company. Here’s why.
It’s no secret that Instagram knows more about us than it ever had. We all know that Instagram knows what we like, what we share, who are our friends, and many such things. But it doesn’t stop there.¹ Now it would be an understatement to say that Instagram would’ve stayed the same how it was back in the early 2010 and 2011 before Facebook acquired them.
No matter what Mark Zuckerberg says that he didn’t acquire Instagram because it was becoming a threat to Facebook. But we all know that he did that for that exact reason when he bought Instagram for $1 Billion in 2012. As the years went Instagram became a giant social media service from a niche photo-sharing service and naturally, Facebook got more and more involved in the service.
Instagram is now many things, it’s your social media service like Facebook, it’s a messaging service, it’s a Snapchat, it’s a marketplace, it’s even TikTok now. That’s how big it became since then. Now Instagram just like Facebook collects as much data as possible about our lives to feed their algorithms and target ads based on that very same data.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, the collected data can also be easily accessed by Facebook. The very same tactic Facebook tried to do with WhatsApp earlier this year but severely backfired due to WhatsApp’s enormous users' outrage and received backlash from every side possible.²
Not only from apps they own, but Facebook also collects your data in ways you can’t even imagine. It has SDKs that are being used by thousands of apps which easily allow Facebook to track and measure the actions you take in those apps.
That is what Apple wanted to stop with iOS 14 and wants to stop with iOS 15 in the coming months. It wants to make your Apple products safe and secure from the creepy eyes of Facebook. So, basically, Apple is the good guy and the Facebook is the bad guy in this story.
Finally, live on iOS 14.5
iOS 14 was not the first step Apple took to block personalized and targeted ads from companies like Facebook. The roots began in iOS 13, but back then the ability was hidden deep in the settings menu. But with iOS 14, Apple bought these settings to the forefront of your apps.
So whenever you open apps like Facebook, Instagram, and such services users were greeted with a dialog that asks them to “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not To Track”. If you choose “Ask App Not To Track” it makes it really hard and basically impossible for companies to track and monetize. However, developers can still track you but they won’t be able to get specific information from you whatsoever.
Now with iOS 14.5, the feature is finally live and started asking you to choose whether to allow tracking or not to track before you launch the app for the first time after updating to the 14.5 version. Apple also announced WWDC 2021 for June 7, which will bring iOS 15 that could implement these security features system-wide and could also bring it to macOS too.
What does this mean for you?
Does this mean Instagram won’t work on Apple devices? The answer will be Yes and No. Yes, because Instagram will work just fine and you’ll start to see fewer target ads in your feed and this will also mean Facebook can’t access or track your data, which is a great thing for users like you and me. Not so much for Facebook as a company.
That’s where the problem will become. No, if Facebook wanted to pull its services from Apple devices if things go wrong for them. Although this is very unlikely because of the gigantic amount of user base Facebook has that uses apps like WhatsApp and Instagram on Apple devices. But that doesn't mean the option is ruled out completely. If Epic Games can do it, so can Facebook.
Going forward Apple can only improve on these security features and is already giving back full control to the users in a simple yet effective way. It also will become much more important for Apple to evolve its software like iOS 15 and make it into one of the most secure and privacy-centric OS around.
If Apple actually delivers on this promise, we will be one step closer to a future where devices are ad-free and privacy-focused. Probably this is what breaks the social media giants by making them lose revenue with the limited tracking. If everything goes according to plan, Apple could attract a good chunk of Android users with a privacy-first tagline.
¹ Instagram's recent class-action lawsuit accused the company of illegally harvesting facial recognition or biometric data acquired when the camera is launched inside its app. Instagram and Facebook could collectively face $500 Billion in fines.