Not Apple, Google And Facebook Are Killing The Free Internet

Apple is standing up for user’s privacy as other tech giants are still colonising the web

Recently, Facebook doubled down on its criticism against Apple’s iOS 14 privacy feature by launching a second full-page advertisement across renowned newspapers.

The ad states: “Apple vs free internet” which is Facebook’s way of portraying that Apple through its new anti-ad tracking feature in iOS 14 is forcing the internet’s future to be subscription-based.

For those who are unfamiliar, the upcoming iOS 14 software update includes a new popup dialog permission that asks the user to allow or deny ad tracking within iOS apps.

Facebook is worried as this change will prohibit them from freely targeting and tracking users across apps for personalized advertisements. Their 80 billion dollars worth Ad Network system is said to see a significant drop. Yes, that’s a billion with a B.

No surprise, Facebook has been repeatedly attacking Apple in an effort to further delay the iOS updates. On the other hand, Apple has responded back by stating that they’re simply providing the user with information about how their data is collected.

Facebook can continue to track users across apps and websites like before, except they’ll require user’s consent now. But it’s pretty obvious that most users would deny apps tracking them which puts Facebook’s ad business in deep trouble.

Shockingly, Facebook has accused Apple of hijacking the free web and killing small businesses when in fact it's them along with Google who’s controlling the flow of the internet for decades now.

Facebook Manipulated Users Into A Free Basics Service And Still Profits Off Their Data

It’s no mystery that Facebook and Google directly influence the majority of the internet’s traffic and have control over the digital advertising industry.

A few years back, the social network king had launched Internet.org(later renamed as Free Basics Service).

It was Mark Zuckerberg’s once ambitious non-profit project to give users in developing nations free access to the internet. From a distance, this seemed like a too good deal to ignore. Sadly, it wasn’t.

The world soon found out, that Free Basics was Facebook’s effort to create their own little web garden.

Facebook faced heavy criticism since the service only supported websites that they curated or approved. It was obvious that the company was promoting websites that’ll help them in data collection and subsequently influence user's behavior.

Worse, Free Basics only supported a few Telecom Service Providers that Facebook partnered with which made survival for smaller operators even more difficult.

Free Basics was Facebook’s all-out assault on the open web and I’m glad that it's doomed.

But still, Facebook continues to track users across the web regardless of whether you’re their user or not. The scary thing is they no longer need cookies to watch you. Instead, their like, share buttons coupled with embedded comments page that you see on most websites are the social network giant’s way of snooping over you.

A firm that once had a slogan “It’s free and always will be” does actually provide free services, except that they’ve made the user’s data their product to mint money from.

Their whole Audience Network uses “Facebook Pixels” to track users across ads on different websites, build their profiles, and eventually re-target them with new ads that are more likely to hook users to their services.

Google’s AMP Was Supposed To Optimise Web Browsing. Instead, It’s Controlling The Flow Of The Internet.

AMP(Accelerate Mobile Pages) is Google’s open-source project to help fix a common issue seen across the web: slow loading speed of web pages.

Users hate to wait for a website to fully load and tend to bounce quickly. Besides, constantly loading these large pages became an overhead when browsing on limited mobile data plans.

So, AMP is Google’s own solution to optimize mobile web surfing and standardize the web experience by getting rid of bloated and obfuscated JavaScript code.

While Google AMP has succeeded in bridging the gap between app and web, still all that glitters isn’t gold.

Firstly, Google has been prioritizing AMP-enabled websites in its search results. So, publishers are forced to adopt the AMP toolset or pay the price of a lower website ranking. Worse, a website can’t get into the top stories carousel on Google search unless it complies with AMP.

If things didn’t seem gloomy till now, all AMP-enabled websites contain the default /amp URL. So it gets annoying when you copy a URL link and it grabs the Google AMP URL. This also means that when you’re visiting an AMP-enabled page you’ve never really left google — which is not only anti-competitive but also a privacy nightmare.

Every time you click an AMP link, Google can track you by knowing what you’re viewing even if you’re not directly opening a Google-hosted website.

In all, AMP is Google’s attempt to become a gatekeeper of the internet thereby becoming a threat to the open web.

Conclusion

When someone says a product is free, you don’t expect them to rob your back pocket as soon as you turn back. Internet was never free and is being monetized by Google and Facebook together.

It’s such a sham that Facebook, a company that demolishes small businesses through threats, acquisitions, or blatant copying is actually accusing Apple of the same.

Perhaps, Apple’s only crime is their billion-dollar deal to keep Google as the default search engine on Safari browser.

But in no way, is the new iOS 14 privacy feature killing the free internet. Instead, it's making users more aware of how they’re tracked and manipulated into ad clicks by likes of Facebook and Google.

It’s a good move by Apple and a moment for Facebook to introspect their business practices and privacy measures.

Thanks for reading.