Tech family feud
When Big Tech CEOs are dragged before Congress and accused of amassing undue power, the leaders of Apple, Facebook, Google, and others have often tried to come up with a unified front. But these companies are also competitors and recently asked regulators to prosecute each other.
Facebook and Apple are now openly arguingafter years of low tension. Facebook has launched a website and an ad campaign accusing Apple of threatening the “free internet” with new policies to track personal information. Apple says it is only “standing up for our users”.
Facebook says Apple will harm small businesses. “Apple’s latest update threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers. Facebook noted on a website that was created to “give small business owners a place to speak their minds”. Facebook’s business model is based on the ability to serve targeted ads on the internet.
“What may be at stake is a future business that Facebook believes is the next big thing they can’t get without this data,” Ben Bajarin, an analyst in Silicon Valley, told The Times.
According to Apple, Facebook should seek user consent before being tracked. The update will prompt users to decide whether Facebook can track their activity on other companies’ apps – “they should have a choice,” Apple said in a statement (along with a snarky graphic). However, the change also introduces hurdles for apps from Facebook (and others) to compete with those from Apple.
“A lot of the privacy measures Apple has put in place over the past few years to enable people to understand what is happening to them in the background have a lot to do with Facebook,” Bajarin said.
This is where things get really interesting. To make its struggle worse, Facebook said it would provide information on “the unfair guidelines Apple is imposing” on an antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games. (For details on this case, see our interview with Epic boss Tim Sweeney at our online summit last month.) And in Europe, Facebook yesterday said it would support new restraints on market power from tech giants, provided they would ” also set limits for apples. “
Trying to turn regulators against rivals isn’t new to Big Tech – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has raised public and private alarms among US officials about TikTok’s Chinese property. However, these battles are closer to home, between companies that are also embroiled in a mutual cartel war.
Meanwhile, a new lawsuit accuses Google of illegally controlling the online advertising market. Ten states said it overwhelmed publishers and put pressure on rivals. “If the free market were a baseball game, Google would position itself as a pitcher, batsman and umpire,” said Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general. (Other states are expected to file a separate lawsuit today.)
WHAT HAPPENS HERE
Legislators say they are these near a stimulus deal. The leaders of Congress signaled that they had agreed on key points, including direct payments, additional unemployment benefits and help for small businesses. But economists say the roughly $ 900 billion package is nowhere near enough to prop up the economy.