By Rex Hammock, CEO

A few weeks ago, someone asked me why Apple and Facebook were fighting each other.

I had to admit that I wasn’t quite sure. It seems simple, until you try to explain it. 

On its surface, it seems like a battle over access to user data and the “advanced tracking” technology that allows Facebook to target advertising so precisely (and spookily) to users. 

Apple is about to make a change in its operating system that will make that feature more difficult to access. 

While Apple is not banning advanced tracking (you can turn it on by using Safari> Preferences > Privacy), in a coming upgrade, Apple is making advanced trafficking the default setting with the option of turning it off.

“Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in January. Facebook’s economic concern is that once prompted to opt in to being tracked, users will opt out and Facebook loses massive ad revenue.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the change is rooted in the company’s belief that “users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.”

And on-and-on.

Why This Matters

I’ve heard this described as a battle between privacy and profit. But I believe it is more complex and nuanced than that. In reality, the issue has been taking place for the past decade. Apple believes that users should know what companies plan to do with your data and information before you share it, and Facebook sees itself as a free platform that you pay for by allowing the provider of the platform to track your data and usage and show you ads. For a marketer or user, it is important to understand—even if it seems too complex or even too simple.

Regardless of how this particular battle is ultimately resolved, it is highly unlikely to be the last conflict involving commerce and the use of personal data and information.

Image: Getty Images

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