Google is set to make changes to its Android operating system that aims to cut back on the amount of tracking it allows. It’s that kind of tracking that allows big tech companies to gather information about consumers, and in turn target you ruthlessly with advertisements for things it believes you want to buy.
Google's changes aim to limit the sharing of user data with third parties by restricting the amount of data that is collected across different applications.
The changes are similar to those introduced by Apple. In fact, Apple’s changes led Facebook's recently rebranded parent company Meta (opens in new tab) to declare that Apples changes alone would cost the company $10 billion in revenue. That same day, $232 billion was wiped from the company's market cap. That’s a drop of 26 percent! And it set a new record for the largest one-day loss in history. Sucks to be Zuck.
However, despite the market cap massacre, Facebook isn’t as combative with Google’s changes as it was with Apple’s. "[It is] encouraging to see this long-term, collaborative approach to privacy-protective personalized advertising from Google," Graham Mudd, vice president of product marketing, ads and business at Facebook said on Twitter. "We look forward to continued work with them and the industry on privacy-enhancing tech through industry groups."
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Facebook's softer response this time around is likely because Google is taking its time to roll out the policy changes and hasn’t actually disclosed a timeline. It also said that existing technologies will last for at least two years, giving time for companies to adapt. (or is that evade?) Meta has also recently paired with Nvidia to build a staggeringly powerful AI research supercomputer (opens in new tab), so perhaps it just doesn't need that data so much anymore, anyway.
It’s not just big tech that's affected by these kinds of policy changes. Advertising revenue is the lifeblood of many a website (including ours) and there needs to be a healthy equilibrium between ever aggressive and invasive tracking while allowing companies that rely on advertising revenue to survive and thrive. These kinds of discussions will only intensify as we increasingly shift out of the real world and into the virtual one.