Apple Shares New Privacy Video About Over-Sharing

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Apple uploaded a funny privacy ad for the iPhone on Thursday. With the song “Diamonds Cutting Diamonds” by Lydia Ainsworth in the background, the commercial follows various people as they share private information to strangers, like their credit card number, “I browsed eight sites for divorce attorneys today,” and  “I hate Lee, puke emoji” (As he sits right behind her). Apple includes a link to its privacy page in the video description.

News Publishers Consider Abandoning iOS Over Privacy Feature

· Andrew Orr · Link

Over at The Verge, Casey Newton wrote about the increasingly heated battle between Apple and advertisers. There are a couple of tidbits I wanted to comment on.

If you believe that free, ad-supported news is beneficial to a healthy democracy, it’s worth noting that all these pro-privacy changes come at a cost.

Free is great, free news is greater, and transparency is greatest. I believe discussing a healthy democracy involves advocating for open source software, which would necessitate a stance against Apple. So I don’t disagree, and as Mr. Newton notes, we need strong privacy laws as well. He also shares an interesting link to Vox, in which some news publishers are considering abandoning iOS if they can’t monetize their users.

iOS 14 Will Cut Facebook Ad Revenue in Half

· Andrew Orr · News

Facebook logo

Facebook shared a blog post on Wednesday in which it reveals that advertising revenue generated through its Audience Network tool could drop to 50%.

Twitter Could be Fined up to $250 Million Over Privacy Violations

· Andrew Orr · Link

Twitter logo

Since October 2019 the FTC has been investigating Twitter over its use of personal data for targeted ads. Twitter has set aside US$150 million for the minimum fine amount but it could possibly reach up to US$250 million.

If it’s preparing for an unfavorable outcome, that’s probably because it’s not the first tech company that’s had to face the same allegations from the FTC. Facebook previously had to pay $5 billion for several privacy missteps, including the use of people’s phone numbers, provided for security purposes, for its ad business.

iOS 14 Features Could Hurt Facebook Ad Targeting

· Andrew Orr · Link

Facebook logo

iOS 14 features like “ask to track” could hurt Facebook’s ad targeting business, said Chief Financial Officer David Wehner.

With the update to its mobile devices, Apple will ask users if they want to let app developers track their activity across other apps and websites […] The change is expected to start impacting Facebook’s advertising in the third quarter but it will have a more pronounced effect in the fourth quarter, Wehner said.

I’m sure Facebook will find other ways to track people.

In Update to Privacy Policy, Twitter Gives More Data to Advertisers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Twitter logo

Twitter updated its privacy policy on Monday to reflect that more of your data will be shared with advertisers.

To help us understand if these ads are effective, we share device-level data, like IP address, with our advertising partners. We don’t share things like your name, email, phone number, or Twitter username.

To help mobile app advertisers understand if the ads they run on Twitter are effective, Twitter shares some device-level data, like which ads your device may have seen or clicked on, with them. We don’t share your name, email, phone number, or Twitter username.

It doesn’t matter if they don’t share details like your phone number if it gets leaked anyway.

Your Financial Transaction Data is the Holy Grail for Advertisers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Man holding a credit card

Over the past decade, our financial transaction data has become one of the most sought-after data sets. Credit card processors like American Express, Mastercard, and Visa are at the center of it.

All of this is happening under a veil of secrecy. Credit card companies may acknowledge that they make money from analyzing transactions, but they are vague about what data they actually share […] Even Apple, which prohibits Goldman Sachs from using its card data for marketing purposes, couldn’t get the same concessions out of Mastercard, its card network.

Here’s a link to the study mentioned in the article, where MIT researchers successfully de-anonymized financial data that these companies claim had privacy protections.

Apple Search Ads Now Available in Russia

· Andrew Orr · Product News

App Store logo

Apple announced today that Apple Search Ads are now available in Russia, with the ads going live on May 4.

Facebook Removes ‘Pseudoscience’ Category for Targeted Ads

· Andrew Orr · Link

Facebook logo

Facebook is no longer allowing advertisers to use pseudoscience as a category with which to target people.

The company eliminated the pseudoscience category from its “detailed targeting” list on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said by phone, after tech news site The Markup showed that it could advertise a post targeting people interested in pseudoscience.

The Markup demonstrated that Facebook was allowing such ads after saying it would police COVID-19 misinformation on its platform. More than 78 million Facebook users were interested in “pseudoscience,” it said, citing Facebook’s ad portal.

Good to see Facebook doing this. Now we just need YouTube to stop recommending conspiracy videos.

Apple Uploads iPhone SE Commercial on YouTube

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Apple uploaded an iPhone SE commercial to its YouTube channel. Set to “Perusa” by NVDES, it’s an energetic video showing the main capabilities of the phone, like its camera with 4K recording, Portrait Lighting,  Touch ID, privacy, and more.

Black. White. Or red. In a small 4.7” design. With studio-quality portraits. Sharp 4K video. Long battery life. A13 Bionic — the fastest chip in a smartphone. And the security of Touch ID, with privacy built in. iPhone SE. Lots to love. And less to spend.

Twitter Took Away Your Ability to Stop Sharing Data With Advertisers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Twitter logo

Twitter had a feature that users could enable that stopped the company from sharing certain data with advertisers. That feature is now gone.

An option in Twitter’s privacy settings called “Share your data with Twitter’s business partners” used to let you disable sharing of this information. That setting still exists, but Twitter now says it has removed your control over “mobile app advertising measurements.” Disabling the setting can still prevent sharing of other information, such as your interests. Other Twitter privacy settings, like disabling web tracking, are still available. Twitter will not share your name, email address, phone number, or username.

Should We Ban Targeted Advertising?

· Andrew Orr · Link

Gilad Edelman asks an important question at Wired: Why don’t we just ban targeted advertising?

The solution to our privacy problems, suggested Hansson, was actually quite simple. If companies couldn’t use our data to target ads, they would have no reason to gobble it up in the first place, and no opportunity to do mischief with it later. From that fact flowed a straightforward fix: “Ban the right of companies to use personal data for advertising targeting.”

Instead of, or in addition to, banning or restricting targeted advertising, I think we should go a step further and restrict data collection, which is what these companies use for these ads in the first place. When any startup without a track record can enter the business of collecting and selling our personal information, that’s a problem.

Google: “We Don’t Sell Your Data, We Just Monetize It”

· Andrew Orr · Link

Google logo

One way to avoid the California Consumer Privacy Act is to claim that you don’t sell data. This is what Google has seemingly done.

Google monetizes what it observes about people in two major ways: It uses data to build individual profiles with demographics and interests, then lets advertisers target groups of people based on those traits. It shares data with advertisers directly and asks them to bid on individual ads.

As I tweeted yesterday, there is no difference between selling “access” to data and selling data “directly.” In both scenarios, people are products for advertisers. Although I’m sure lawsuits have been won and lost on lesser technicalities.