Facebook’s owners have been dealt another blow after Google announced Wednesday that it will limit ad tracking on billions of Android devices.
The move follows a similar policy introduced by Apple last year, which will “raise barriers to user privacy”, the US search giant said.
Ad tracking allows marketers to collect data as people move between apps on their phones.
It is used by companies like Meta – formerly Facebook – and Google to target ads and is a huge source of revenue for them.
However, tech giants are under growing pressure to better balance privacy and ad targeting as users complain and regulators threaten tougher regulations.
On the other hand, the companies themselves are trying to maintain access to the data that makes them billions of dollars in advertising revenue.
Apple accounts for about 50% of the smartphone market in the US while Google’s Android software is used on about 85% of smartphones globally.
As a result, any change to Android could affect data from billions of users.
Currently, the internet search giant assigns identities to Android-powered devices.
This allows advertisers to have a profile of people’s online habits and thus send them advertisements that may be of interest to them.
“Our goal … is to develop effective advertising and privacy-enhancing solutions where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have tools for mobile success,” Google said in a statement.
For its part, last year Apple announced that users of its one billion iPhones in circulation could decide whether to allow tracking of their online activity for ad targeting purposes. are not.
It’s a change that Apple says shows it’s focused on privacy, but critics note doesn’t stop the company itself from tracking its users.
Apple’s regulation has caused waves in the tech world, with Meta saying it expects the policy to cost the company $10 billion in lost revenue this year.
It is expected to have a heavy impact as less data will affect the accuracy of the ads that Meta and other companies can sell, and therefore their prices.
Google gave an indication of the timing of the announced changes, saying that “we plan to support existing ad platform features for at least two years, and we plan to provide notice significantly before any future changes.”
The company said it was looking for ways to better protect user privacy, which would “restrict the sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID.”
It contrasted its plans with Apple’s move, saying, “we’ve noticed that other platforms have taken a different approach to ad privacy, outright limiting technologies.” are currently used by developers and advertisers.”
Meta reacted to the news with some relief.
The company’s vice president of advertising products marketing, Graham Mudd, tweeted: “Encouraged to see this long-term collaborative approach to privacy-preserving personalized advertising from Google.”
While Google argues that the changes will protect user anonymity, it could also further strengthen the dominance the tech giant already holds in the digital advertising industry.
Google’s parent Alphabet raked in more than $60 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021 from advertising revenue alone, which accounts for more than 80% of its earnings.
“Google has a number of ways to keep an eye on it,” said analyst Rob Enderle.
“Tracking is much more important to Facebook than Google,” he added, referring to the search giant’s many online services that provide various sources of user data.
In other news, a British woman was tell of her horror after scammers used photos of a “silver fox” politician to defraud her of £80,000.
Norfolk . County Council suing Apple about what it says is misinformation about iPhone sales.
The creators of a scary new horror game say the title is so disturbing that they have to censor it on PlayStation.
And, Apple announced Update to AirTags follows claims that coin-sized tracking devices are being used to track people.
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