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Facebook and Instagram threaten to charge for access on iOS 14.5 unless you give them your data

Facebook Instagram Att Warning
Facebook Instagram Att Warning (Image credit: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Facebook and Instagram are desperate for users to give them access to data and are threatening to charge if they say no.
  • As of iOS 14.5, apps must ask a user for permission to track them from app to app.

Facebook and Instagram are threatening that users will need to pay for their services. But only if users don't allow the pair to track them from app to app after installing iOS 14.5.

Following the release of iOS 14.5 all apps must ask for permission before they can track a user between apps and websites. That has companies like Facebook worried about their ad revenue, and they're trying every trick in the book to make sure people allow them to track them.

To help people make a more informed decision, we're also showing a screen of our own, along with Apple's. It will provide more information about how we use personalized ads, which support small businesses and keep apps free. If you accept the prompts for Facebook and Instagram, the ads you see on those apps won't change. If you decline, you will still see ads, but they will be less relevant to you. Agreeing to these prompts doesn't result in Facebook collecting new types of data. It just means that we can continue to give people better experiences.

Those screens are blatantly suggesting that users can "help keep Facebook/Instagram free" by allowing ads. That, in turn, suggests that declining could cause the companies to charge for access in the future, though it's unclear how likely that is given Facebook's ad-based business model.

https://twitter.com/ashk4n/status/1388270878870310912

It's also notable that Apple's App Store rules forbid apps from offering incentives for users to allow themselves to be tracked. It isn't immediately clear whether Facebook and Instagram are breaking that rule here or not, but it's definitely close!

Speaking of tracking, Apple's new AirTag item tracker is now here but is it the best for you? Check out the best alternatives to AirTag, too.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

16 Comments
  • No that a low play, most people will just click yes because they don’t want to pay for it, but they a forgetting that they pay for these services with data which has more value to Facebook, best advice is just remove these apps.
  • Then it will be bye bye Facebook for me.
  • I can't imagine Facebook ever charging for its service. Empty threats in the hope people will just do what they're told, unfortunately.
  • I would rather pay than be monetized, or at least have the option. Service follows the money. On Facebook and Instagram, the customers are the advertisers, not the users. Which is why I rarely use them. It may be fallacy to think one can be anonymous anymore, but what the heck. I like my Apple services, that don't sell me, and my Thunderbird email and Libre Office that also don't. I pay or donate for what I use, and don't have to accede to Facebook for anything. Guess I'm old-fashioned that way...
  • If you don't pay for the product you are the product. That being said do you think even if you pay for it that they won't continue to harvest data from your device? If you do think they won't you're fooling yourself.
  • People won't get their fix from hearing the constant notification dings. They're addicted to that.
  • Just use the Facebook website and ditch the app. Remember when Apple didn’t have an App Store? What do you think Facebook used back then?
  • Or better yet, don't use Facebook!
  • Facebook can track you via the web just fine, too. And they don't have to ask.
  • Truly I hope they do just this. Then everyone will say, do I need this? There will be some FB and IG users who will desperately say yes. Many though when seeing will say WTH you want me to pay for this? With that they'll delete this app like a bad habit. In the end Facebook needs us we don't need them.
  • I feel bad for people who are addicted to these cancerous apps. I feel bad, but at the same time, they're blindly letting Facebook know everything about them for free. I've never had Facebook/IG or any modern social media account.. last one I had was MySpace, abandoned about 15 years ago. Facebook should be paying its users for every bit of data they take and re-sell. #cancelFacebook (forever)
  • Finally, a sensible announcement from facebook... This is ultimately what needs to happen. One of Facebook's early (and still) mantras was "Free, and always will be" -- which, looking at the fine print or the little footnote would be "...as long as we can mine your data and sell it to advertisers and have them track you". The interesting announcement would be if google said the same thing. I am not sure everyone realizes how much we rely on google for how we use the internet. I am OK if the big data miners want to mine my data if I use their services for free. However, there should be an option to "Not mine my data" and that option should be the default. If Facebook or any other services wishes to only allow "No mining if I pay" then so be it. Those sites (apps) that I really want to use, I will pay to use. For other sites (apps), I won't use them. In the end, we also need to realize that facebook is a business, even before it was public it needed to generate revenue, because supporting 2 billion users cannot be done for free. And, if facebook cannot track us, the advertisers would not give facebook money. The bottom line is that is time for all companies that have an "Ad-only, track-only" revenue model need to come up with a secondary revenue stream...
  • Why does ANYONE still use Facebook?
  • "Why does ANYONE still use Facebook? Hundreds of millions of people still use Facebook. What’s your point?
  • 2.74 billion monthly active users, apparently.
  • And what do you use to keep in touch with family and friends scattered all over the country world. It's also surprising how many organizations use Facebook as a means of disseminating information. That includes government organizations, schools and others.