Data shows just 4% of iOS 14.5 users are letting apps track behavior for targeted advertising

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With the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, Apple introduced a new feature requiring native apps running on its devices to proactively require users to give permission to track their activity for ad targeting purposes.

When a user opens an app that’s requested to track this data and, often, combine it with other data obtained for invisible tracking code strewn across the web, users are now asked to give a “yes” or “no.”

It turns out most are saying no thanks.

Verizon’s Flurry Analytics data estimates that just 4% of U.S. users are tapping the “yes” option on these prompts, meaning that, at least according to this estimate, other tech giants such as Facebook are limited in how much they can target advertising shown to users of its app.

Even if that estimate is low, it’s still a big hit for a company like Facebook who relies heavily on targeted advertising to make money — and especially when much of how effective its ads can be combines user behavior both on and off the Facebook platform and even across devices.

Facebook was an early critic of the change when Apple developers were given a head’s up about it in late 2020, evening taking newspaper ads decrying it.

Because iOS is the operating system on mobile devices made by Apple, the company has tremendous control over what it can allow and prohibit app developers from doing. All apps go through a technical and privacy review, among other steps, before being approved, so Apple can easily weed out noncompliant apps and even yank ones that don’t update from users’ devices.

Apple’s changes do not completely affect advertising that apps such as a Facebook can show you based on behavior within their own app — or from showing ads of general interest or limited targeting based on demographic information you’ve chosen to provide the platform.

Ads you see may become more broad and less personalized, which could leave some users scratching their heads on why they’re being shown that ad for the “one thing to eat to empty your bowels” more and more.

In some ways, turning off this feature is a double edged sword — you’ll still likely be exposed to the same amount of advertising and it may become irrelevant to the point of hilarity. You may also loose out of learning about new products and services that genuinely could help you and your family.

It’s also likely you’ll start seeing more and more ads for companies with every high profit margins who can afford to blanket the internet with ads because they make so much profit from even a single sale it’s worth it. Unfortunately, many of those companies aren’t also the most reputable and can also be bait for sites that install spyware and — one of the latest scams — try to add hundreds of events to your calendar that are just ads in disguise.