San Francisco: Apple Inc. executives rarely call out Facebook Inc., but they made more moves on Monday to limit the social network’s data collection.
In iPhone, iPad, and Mac software updates later this year, Apple’s default Safari web browser will show a pop-up window asking users for permission before loading share buttons from social networks, including Facebook. These buttons make it easy to share web content, but they also let social networks collect user data—something Apple has been cracking down on in recent years.
This would also apply to tools such as like buttons and the comment sections of social networks, Apple executive Craig Federighi demonstrated during a presentation at the company’s annual developer conference.
Apple also showcased a new system that makes it more difficult to gather information about users as they browse across the web.
When people visit sites, the characteristics of their device can be used by advertisers to create a “fingerprint" to track them. Safari will share a “simplified" profile to thwart this, Apple said.
The changes are not Apple’s most expansive in the privacy space, simply an evolution. Last year, the company launched an Intelligent Tracking system that makes it more difficult for advertisers to follow users around the web.
Still, Monday’s announcements are another step in a brewing spat with Facebook over privacy and data collection. While Facebook wasn’t mentioned during Monday’s keynote, Apple has criticized the social network operator recently. Lax policies around sharing data with third parties led to the leak of Facebook user information to consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Apple chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook said in March that he “wouldn’t be in this situation" if he were in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes.
The Facebook CEO called the criticism “extremely glib".
Earlier this year, Apple added a new privacy panel to its operating systems, explaining in plain language why, how, and what data is collected from Apple devices and by specific applications. While Facebook generates revenue from ads targeted with detailed information about users, Apple makes most of its money selling hardware products.