Google announces privacy changes to Android that will limit user data

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by senttoschool


  • It’s a response to Apple’s IDFA change that screwed FB
  • Google had to do something because it doesn’t want to look bad and Apple has been touting its change as a user privacy benefit
  • Google’s change is less drastic than Apple’s, which was announced without giving any developers notice, and without any options
  • Google will focus on limiting the granularity of the user’s data available to ads and aggregate more data instead of showing user level data
  • Advertisers will still have data, just less of it, and in more aggregated form instead of individual
  • For example, Google itself will now scan the user’s app usage patterns and create an interests profile of the user. An interest could be stocks or pizza. Then Google will share these interests with advertisers. This means Google now controls that data, instead of a company like Facebook that collected this data themselves. This gives a ton of power to Google.
  • Google’s change will roll out in 2 years
  • It’s more advertiser-friendly than what Apple did
  • But it’s still a net negative to ad companies like FB, Snap, etc over what is there today

One very important thing to note is that Google learned from Apple’s change that without cross-platform tracking, advertisers bought more search ads instead because the user’s intent was more direct. This led to more business for Google. I highlighted it here why Google was salivating at the thought of doing this on Android too, in order to drive more ad business to its search and weaken Facebook.

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Facebook has been renting the penthouse in the Apple Condo building and the Google Condo building. It was a good life. But now the owners of the buildings, Apple and Google, want to take the penthouses back.

Quick overview of how Apple and Google screwed FB:

Each user has a unique ID on iOS and one on Android. For example, mine might be 696969.

Many apps use Facebook’s ad services. In order to use FB’s service, they have to add some Facebook code to their app to track conversions. For example, if I saw an ad for Robinhood on Instagram, I go download the app, I open the app, the little Facebook code on Robinhood will send a message to Zuckerberg HQ that user 696969 has downloaded the app. This allowed advertisers to know how effective each Facebook ad was. Now advertisers have no clue.

It just so happens that this tiny piece of Facebook code will also know that user 696969 opened this app at 7:02 am. And a finance app at 9:00am. A game at 10am. And so on. Facebook stores this data and starts building a profile of me, even outside of FB, Instagram, and Whatsapp.

Besides ads on IG, FB, and Whatsapp, Facebook also had the Audience Network. If I made a free app, I could show ads from Facebook and split the revenue with Facebook. Previously, Facebook knew exactly who you were even on 3rd party apps because my ID 696969 was still visible. This allowed Facebook to continue to show relevant ads to users. Not anymore.

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On iOS, FB has no real way of knowing who is who anymore because it doesn’t see 696969 anymore. FB is left on its own. Well played, Apple.

On Android, FB won’t see who 696969 is anymore, but FB can request a profile, such as interests, of this anonymous user. But it’s now Google that is the one creating a profile of me, and then sharing it anonymously with Facebook. It’s a power move by Google. Google is saying to FB, “you eat what I give you son”. Well played, Google.

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