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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook further escalated its long-brewing fight with Apple this week, launching a second round of full-page newspaper ads Thursday charging that new Apple privacy measures will hurt small businesses. At the same time, Facebook is backing developers in a lawsuit against Apple's app store policies.

The big picture: Apple wants to give users the chance to opt out of being tracked by Facebook and other companies that sell ads. Facebook says the move will "change the internet as we know it — for the worse."

Apple ad that ran in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on Thursday

Driving the news: Facebook placed several full-page ads in prominent U.S. newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on Wednesday and again on Thursday, attacking Apple for using its data privacy efforts in an anti-competitive way.

  • Apple's newest software updates ask users whether they want to allow apps like Facebook to track their activity.
  • Facebook has long asserted that these changes will make it harder for small business to place targeted ads.
  • "Apple plans to roll out a forced software update that will change the internet as we know it — for the worse," the ads said on Thursday. "We're standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere," the ads said on Wednesday.
  • Apple argues that the changes allow users to protect their privacy. “Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not," Apple said Wednesday.

Facebook is simultaneously going after Apple for leveraging what it believes to be anti-competitive business practices around its app store.

  • The company said it would help Epic Games, the developer behind the popular game Fortnite, with its lawsuit against Apple for taking up-to-30% in commission from in-app purchases and subscriptions of apps purchased or downloaded through its app store, per The Wall Street Journal. (Apple has filed a countersuit against Epic.)
  • On a call with reporters Wednesday, Facebook's VP of ads and business products Dan Levy said that Apple's privacy practices would make it harder for smaller publishers to make money from ads, which could force them to try to open up other types of revenue streams, like subscriptions, of which Apple would take a cut.

Yes, but: Critics argue that Facebook's interest in supporting small businesses is self-interested, since much of Facebook's revenue comes from small businesses buying ads on its platforms.

  • On a call with reporters Wednesday, the company wouldn't say how much money it makes from ads targeting users based on data collected from Apple devices. It claimed Apple's move was the start of a much broader Apple effort to phase out targeted advertising altogether.
  • Apple has never said that was its ambition.

The big picture: The battle between Facebook and Apple represents a growing rift in Silicon Valley over whether taking personal data to sell targeted ads is a fair trade when that subsidizes free services for users.

  • Facebook, which makes 98% of its money from free ad-based services, feels strongly that user data — if collected safely and transparently — gives people access to services they want. Its position is aligned with other ad-based companies, like Google.
  • Apple, which makes most of its money selling devices that store personal data, like pictures, notes and passwords, sees user privacy as a fundamental right.

Go deeper: Frenemies Facebook and Apple square off

Go deeper

Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

Updated Jan 21, 2021 - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.