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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking.

  • Between the lines: Facebook is trying to position itself as friendlier to small businesses than Apple, which also faces a lawsuit from Fortnite maker Epic Games over its commission and in-app payment restrictions.

What's happening: Facebook said Friday that it will launch "Paid Online Events" for small businesses in 20 countries around the world to charge Facebook users to attend their classes, instructions and other events.

  • The feature could be useful for any small business or individual offering a service, such a preacher, musician, yoga teacher or cooking instructor.
  • Facebook asked Apple to either waive its 30% cut or let Facebook go around it and process event payments via Facebook Pay, in either case letting event hosts keep all the revenue they generate. Apple declined, according to Facebook.
  • "Really what we're pushing on right now is to make sure all tech companies who can afford to do so join us in supporting small businesses," Fidji Simo, head of Facebook App, said on a press call Friday.

Of note: Hosts will be able to collect the full ticket price from Facebook users who attend their online events via the web or Android. Facebook says it is using its own payment system on Android and letting developers keep all the money.

The bottom line: Although this is Facebook's biggest assault on Apple yet, the two companies have sparred before.

  • Apple spent months rejecting iterations of Facebook's new gaming app before finally allowing it to publish a watered-down version to the App Store last week that only lets users stream and discuss games, not play them in-app.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Nov 20, 2020 - Technology

Cloud gaming services use iPhone's web browser door

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

One of the biggest trends in gaming is the ability to play console games wherever you are, on whatever type of device, thanks to the magic of cloud streaming. The tricky part has been finding a way to bring such gaming to iOS — since Apple wants to review and approve each game as a separate app.

Yes, but: Google, Nvidia and Microsoft have decided to work around, rather than with, Apple's rules. In recent weeks, all three have announced plans to bring their game services to iOS via the web browser — the one big opening in the wall around Apple's garden.

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook says very few people actually see hate speech on its platform

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook said it took action on 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content to its platform globally last quarter and about 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram. On both platforms, it says about 95% of that hate speech was proactively identified and stopped by artificial intelligence.

Details: In total, the company says that there are 10–11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content uploaded to the site globally — or .1%. It calls this metric — how much problematic content it doesn't catch compared to how much is reported and removed — "prevalence."

11 mins ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

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