Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (archive image)
Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
So far, Facebook has grown unchecked in the corona pandemic.
But the company is preparing for headwinds from two directions: from Apple and from the EU.
With its plan to give users of its products more control over their privacy, the iPhone manufacturer has been worrying its competitor Facebook for months.
Now Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg attacked Apple more sharply than ever before.
And in the European Union, Facebook sees the legal situation relating to the transfer of data to the USA as a factor of uncertainty.
With an update for its iOS and iPadOS operating systems, Apple wants to give users new options in the coming months to restrict data collection on iPhones and iPads.
It will be easier for you to prevent apps and advertising services from collecting information about their behavior across the boundaries of individual applications and websites.
Apple's plan is that every app must ask users for permission to access it.
Facebook fears that the less knowledge about people will make the personalization of advertising less precise.
The promise to advertisers to precisely meet the desired target group is a cornerstone of Facebook's business model.
"One of our biggest competitors"
Zuckerberg and Facebook had already criticized in recent months that poorly personalized advertising would damage small and medium-sized companies in particular.
In the Corona crisis, they are particularly dependent on the online network as a platform for their business.
Facebook collects data from various sources "to help small businesses reach their customers more efficiently," Zuckerberg said.
This is the allegation that Apple's actions could slow down the entire economy.
But the Facebook boss was even clearer in his criticism.
"Apple may claim that they are doing it to help the people - but their steps clearly follow their competitive interests," Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts after the latest quarterly figures were presented.
"I would like to emphasize that we increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors."
Sharp criticism of Apple's iMessage
In particular, Zuckerberg shot himself at Apple's iMessage chat service - in Germany it is called "Nachrichten" - which competes with Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger services.
The Apple service is pre-installed on all iPhones and is preferred there, he criticized.
He also attacked Apple's stance on data protection.
Thanks to end-to-end encryption, chat content in WhatsApp is basically only available in plain text for those involved, emphasized the Facebook boss.
Apple, however, saves iMessage backups by default without end-to-end encryption on its servers if the iCloud service is not switched off.
"Apple and governments have the ability to access messages from most people," Zuckerberg said.
WhatsApp recently had to watch how the competing apps Telegram, Signal and Threema recorded great growth after WhatsApp published new data protection rules.
Apparently, that sparked fears that more data would be shared with Facebook.
However, Facebook emphasizes that the changes should only apply to communication between companies and their customers on WhatsApp.
Zuckerberg tried again to "clear up confusion": "This update does not change data protection in chats with friends and family," he said.
“All of these messages have end-to-end encryption, which means we can't see or hear what's being said.
And we never will either. "
Increasing profits and user numbers
In the past quarter, no headwind was felt in the Facebook business.
Revenue rose a third year over year to just under $ 28.1 billion.
In terms of profit, there was a jump of 53 percent to a good 11.2 billion dollars, as Facebook announced after the US market closed on Wednesday.
The number of users also increased again.
2.8 billion users came to Facebook at least once a month - 60 million more than a year earlier.
Daily it was 1.84 billion after 1.82 billion in the final quarter of the previous year.
A total of 3.3 billion users accessed at least one app from the Facebook group such as Instagram and WhatsApp every month.
It was also noticeable that the number of daily active users in the USA and Canada fell for the second quarter in a row.
After 198 million in the second quarter of 2020, it was last 195 million.
The region is particularly lucrative for Facebook with an average of over $ 53 in sales per user.
In Europe it was recently an average of just under $ 17 per user.
Warning of an uncertain future
Facebook also spoke of "significant imponderables" in the future.
During the pandemic, they benefited from the general boost in online business.
However, should this trend reverse, it will also slow the growth of Facebook's advertising revenue.
In addition, the online network has already warned that, in view of the rapid growth in the second half of 2020, there will be foreseeable lower growth in the current year.
Another factor of uncertainty is the situation regarding data transmission from the European Union.
The European Court of Justice also overturned the new data protection agreement “Privacy Shield” last summer.
Icon: The mirror
mak / dpa