Facebook uses Apple's privacy opt-out as a reason for declining revenue

By: Rob Corbidge, 04 February 2022

If you want to know how much your data is worth, then Facebook's jab at Apple this week is a good indication of how privacy controls prevent users being milked

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, saw more than $230bn knocked off its value this week after revealing that its marquee platform, Facebook itself, had lost audience for the first time ever.

The decline, from 1.929bn Daily Active Users (DAU) in the three months to the end of December, compared to 1.930bn in the previous quarter, sent shock waves through already mercurial markets.

Meta's Chief Financial Officer David Wehner named Apple as a big problem as the figures were revealed, saying that Apple's policy of allowing its users to opt out of tracking on Facebook will cost it more than $10 billion in lost sales in 2022.

“It’s a pretty significant headwind,” Mr. Wehner said on a call with analysts, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook CFO David Wehner

Facebook CFO David Wehner

Facebook has had a long period of revenue growth on the back of its targeted adverts, using the data it has on users to deliver those highly targeted ads based on that information. Apple's policy change mid-2021 affected Facebook, particularly in its core US market, as a majority of users, according to some data , opt not to be tracked.

Apple are unlikely to be giving up their USP privacy walled garden approach any time soon - even as storm clouds gather for them.

Facebook also said it had lost market share to TikTok.

We note the Biden administration is once again looking at where Tik-Tok keeps its data and who has access to it - remember the Trump administration got close to forcing a sell-off of TikTok into the somewhat unlikely arms of Oracle. That could work in Facebook's favour - but it's likely the audience horse has already bolted.

It's important to note that no one really understands social media "platform" adoption behaviour. 

There's a suspicion that the platform-of-choice reinvents itself with each new generation ("your dad's Facebook") or that different subcultures adopt different platforms, or a mixture of both. Certainly, many young people are more clued up about what is done with their data, and its value - and that probably spells bad news for Facebook. Meta implies existence on a wider structure. That structure is still in progress, and by users, not Facebook.