Apple's shutdown of Facebook's internal apps was a light punishment for a repeat offender

Posted:
in General Discussion
You can ascribe motives to Apple switching off Facebook's internal apps, but you can't argue that it didn't have the right or even the obligation to do so -- and it may not have gone far enough. We may rarely read the terms and conditions, but Facebook did and broke them anyway, and is now paying the price.




If you can't win an argument on the facts, you do your best to move to a topic you can control. This is why politicians so often begin their answers to awkward questions with "Of course, the real issue is..." For preference, you move the argument on to something that no one can deny, or that anyone disagree with you will appear at least foolish.

Then as soon as you've successfully made your point, you immediately return to the original issue and try to paint your good-guy status onto that.

So you start with the fact that Apple has disabled Facebook's developer certificate and this means the social media firm's internal apps have stopped working. Then you take that on to whether Apple should be allowed to police the internet and of course the answer is no.

Suddenly you're not arguing over whether Facebook did wrong, though. You're not looking at the scale of the privacy invasion, you're not debating what's actually happened. You're making a theoretical argument about policing apps and that's easy ground.

It's also ground that lets you say stridently that Apple should not be able to determine the course of the internet -- and that wins on two fronts. It's anti-Apple, which is guaranteed to get a reaction, and it's stating the obvious which even makes you seem reasonable. It makes it seem as if you are the one passionately advocating the only sane result.

Bring this back to what actually happened, though. Bring this back to the actual issue, not to some easy, comfortable extrapolation.

When your argument is specifically over whether Apple should've done what it did, there is an answer. You might not like it, but the answer is plain. Apple did what it should.

It's not as if Facebook could've mislaid its copy of Apple's terms and conditions
It's not as if Facebook could've mislaid its copy of Apple's terms and conditions

Term limits

Apple's terms and conditions are there to benefit Apple and nobody else. You can well agree with the company's position on security and see its stance as a benefit to us, but that's practically incidental. The terms and conditions benefit Apple and if you don't agree to them, you don't sign them.

Forget policing, security, privacy, this comes down to contract law. If you sign and then you break the terms, you're done.

This happened to a developer that we know, over a poetry app in 2018, that is several orders of magnitude less trafficked than Facebook. That time, it was by accident and with rather substantially fewer privacy issues -- one of the terms of having apps is that you or your company maintains an Apple Developer account and the developer inadvertently let his lapse. The app in question was immediately removed from the App Store. These are the rules.

It might have been nice to have had an email warning in an action that took less time than it took for Apple to decide to strike Facebook's enterprise certification. Besides that, though, there's no real complaint to be made about the app being removed.

Apple did not drop the app through a vendetta, it did not throw it out of the App Store because someone in Cupertino decided they don't like poetry apps. And when the contracts were signed again, when the developer fee was paid, the app was right back in the Store.

It is exactly the same with Facebook. Exactly. You can debate whether Apple is happy or not about bringing down the social media giant's internal apps, given that the hostilities between the two companies are hardly a secret. Specifically, the factual question is whether Facebook broke the terms and conditions of its agreements with Apple and the App Store.

No one, not Apple and not even Facebook, is disputing the fact that they did.

That said

Given that some are arguing that Apple is punishing Facebook, that it is taking its revenge for the various public spats the two companies have held, it seems wilfully courting controversy to claim generosity.

Facebook's public apps are unaffected
Facebook's public apps are unaffected


Only, Facebook has broken the App Store rules so profoundly, that Facebook should no longer be on the App Store at all. That seems clear to us and yet at this moment you can still download the Facebook app for iOS right this minute.

The only reason it survived the purge, is because the app that Facebook broke the rules with is an enterprise one, not a regular public app. This is really the crux of the whole issue as Facebook deliberately made this so that it could distribute it without the App Store and skirt Apple's very public rules about user data collection, even with permission.

It deliberately used its Enterprise Developer Certificates in order to make an app that users could install the same way that beta testers or internal company staff could. Consequently, Apple has revoked that Enterprise Developer Certificate.

Apple presumably did so because this specifically stops this Facebook Research app. And, it's because Facebook uses that same certificate when developing its own in-house apps that all of those have stopped too.

The public apps such as Facebook and Messenger were done using a different developer certificate and that's why they are still available.

We can't disagree with the legal logic, this is again a specific contractual issue. Yet here's Facebook, not only going to lengths to subvert Apple's terms and conditions but still doing it having been caught before.

With Facebook's track record on this issue, it's hard to believe that the company won't continue doing what it's doing as soon as it is able. So it's hard not to think that Apple should remove Facebook from the App Store completely. And, it has stricken lesser developers for far lighter crimes against the terms and conditions.

That's the debate to be had. And then, there's still the matter of what it should do to Google.


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watto_cobra

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    mike54tobianjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Many young people don't really care about its personal data, so perhaps Apple should give them this option.. to earn a few bucks from these scums. By making new AppStore category "data collecting", strongly clarifying what's the purpose of such "analytics" apps, collecting 30% out of the payment indeed.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mike54mike54 Posts: 347member
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    Thanks for the links. Very Google.
    Google is in fact worse than Facebook.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    mike54 said:
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    Thanks for the links. Very Google.
    Google is in fact worse than Facebook.
    You’re welcome. I agree — Google is worse than FB, but they’re both horrible. I don’t do FB, and I avoid anything Google-related at all costs, including use DDG for search. We need to educate people how these evil companies work. 
    tobianjbdragonn2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    mike54 said:
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    Thanks for the links. Very Google.
    Google is in fact worse than Facebook.
    You’re welcome. I agree — Google is worse than FB, but they’re both horrible. I don’t do FB, and I avoid anything Google-related at all costs, including use DDG for search. We need to educate people how these evil companies work. 
    Unfortunately Google is so pervasive it’s next to impossible to cut them out:

    https://gizmodo.com/i-cut-google-out-of-my-life-it-screwed-up-everything-1830565500
    edited January 31 jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    The top free app on the App Store is Instagram. 2nd is YouTube. 4th is Messenger. 6th is Gmail and 11th is Facebook. It’s not Apple’s fault people want to use these apps. And it’s not Apple’s business or responsibility to change people’s behaviors. Sure Apple can remove Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp from the App Store but it would hurt them as much as it hurts Facebook.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 18
    mike54 said:
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    Thanks for the links. Very Google.
    Google is in fact worse than Facebook.
    You’re welcome. I agree — Google is worse than FB, but they’re both horrible. I don’t do FB, and I avoid anything Google-related at all costs, including use DDG for search. We need to educate people how these evil companies work. 

  • Reply 8 of 18
    Happy to know there are people thinking the same way I do
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    olsols Posts: 42member
    Facebook I shed a tear - wait a moment ... it is coming ... ah, sorry no.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,419member
    Exellent comment. 
    I might add that an agreement enforced by a company has no legal right when it violates human rights or the rights of a specific country, the agreement is signed in.
    (Companies are not above the law and/or allowed to violate human rights, as is often forgotten.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    Some reactions (on both sides) were way over the top here. Facebook did wrong with the enterprise certificate, so it got revoked. That was a good thing. The fact that FB was doing that to minors is a matter to the police agencies.

    Is Apple more light handed to big apps in their platform? Yes they are. That’s a question for Apple leadership to decide. It’s funny though that they get to be attacked for “policing the internet” and “not doing enough” over the same issue.

    In the interim, if you want to shut down your FB account, good for you! If you want to leave iOS, good riddance!
    edited January 31 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,532member
    ...
     That’s a question for Apple leadership to decide. It’s funny though that they get to be attacked for “policing the internet” and “not doing enough” over the same issue.

    If you took "doublethink" away from the Internet, 99.9% of Twitter/Instagram/FB/YouTube/blog/media commentator's heads would explode...it's what they live on...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 159member
    kruegdude said:
    mike54 said:
    I wish Apple would go after Goophabet in a similar, if not more assertive, manner. 

    What follows is the best description of how Goophabet works I’ve ever read. Patrick Berlinquette fleshes out what “monetizing users’ data” in simple and clear language. Why is this not all over the Internet?!

    https://medium.com/s/story/the-complete-unauthorized-checklist-of-how-google-tracks-you-3c3abc10781d
    Thanks for the links. Very Google.
    Google is in fact worse than Facebook.
    You’re welcome. I agree — Google is worse than FB, but they’re both horrible. I don’t do FB, and I avoid anything Google-related at all costs, including use DDG for search. We need to educate people how these evil companies work. 
    Unfortunately Google is so pervasive it’s next to impossible to cut them out:

    https://gizmodo.com/i-cut-google-out-of-my-life-it-screwed-up-everything-1830565500
    I had no trouble cutting Google out of my life. Of course, I'm still being tracked because people I know and interact with still use Google.

    Switch to Fastmail.com, DuckDuckGo.com and delete cookies several times a week. Better than nothing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    Tim Cook is going around being all self-righteous about protecting user's security and privacy and Wall Street is basically laughing at him right in front of his face. Big investors are tossing most of their investment money at Facebook and saying Apple is doomed. Wall Street would rather bet on Facebook than Apple because data-harvesting is a lot more profitable than selling iPhone hardware. Facebook is valued much higher than Apple and always will be. Consumers love Facebook and Google no matter how much their personal data is used or if there's some data breach every few months. That sort of stuff doesn't matter to consumers as long as they get their daily fix of "free" social media services.

    Apple will always be the big loser. Tim Cook should get off his high horse and focus more on how to keep Apple's value high. Zuckerberg will do anything to increase profits for his company. Tim Cook can't monetize security and privacy so it's not worth anything to Wall Street and big investors. Tim Cook is just wasting his time worrying about privacy and security because almost no on cares about that stuff.

    Most of the consumers in the world are buying Android smartphones and if they're weak on security or privacy, then that's just too bad. Those cheap Android smartphones are what consumers are going to keep buying and Apple's iPhone will be sitting on store shelves. Tim Cook simply doesn't understand human nature as well as Mark Zuckerberg does. P.T. Barnum and Zuckerberg would have worked well together. They both know that there are potential social media addicts being born every minute and they're ripe for data-harvesting.  Facebook sure jumped right ahead of Apple on earnings.  Who cares about data breaches?  Just show me the profits.
    edited January 31
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,763administrator
    Tim Cook is going around being all self-righteous about protecting user's security and privacy and Wall Street is basically laughing at him right in front of his face. Big investors are tossing most of their investment money at Facebook and saying Apple is doomed. Wall Street would rather bet on Facebook than Apple because data-harvesting is a lot more profitable than selling iPhone hardware. Facebook is valued much higher than Apple and always will be. Consumers love Facebook and Google no matter how much their personal data is used or if there's some data breach every few months. That sort of stuff doesn't matter to consumers as long as they get their daily fix of "free" social media services.

    Apple will always be the big loser. Tim Cook should get off his high horse and focus more on how to keep Apple's value high. Zuckerberg will do anything to increase profits for his company. Tim Cook can't monetize security and privacy so it's not worth anything to Wall Street and big investors. Tim Cook is just wasting his time worrying about privacy and security because almost no on cares about that stuff.

    Most of the consumers in the world are buying Android smartphones and if they're weak on security or privacy, then that's just too bad. Those cheap Android smartphones are what consumers are going to keep buying and Apple's iPhone will be sitting on store shelves. Tim Cook simply doesn't understand human nature as well as Mark Zuckerberg does. P.T. Barnum and Zuckerberg would have worked well together. They both know that there are potential social media addicts being born every minute and they're ripe for data-harvesting.  Facebook sure jumped right ahead of Apple on earnings.  Who cares about data breaches?  Just show me the profits.
    Sure. 

    Facebook just generated $6.88 billion in profit in the holiday quarter. Apple generated $19.9 billion in profit.

    Facebook posted $16.91 billion in revenue, and Apple generated $84.4 billion in revenue.

    So, I guess I'm not sure where you're going with this.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,726member
    Tim Cook is going around being all self-righteous about protecting user's security and privacy and Wall Street is basically laughing at him right in front of his face. Big investors are tossing most of their investment money at Facebook and saying Apple is doomed. Wall Street would rather bet on Facebook than Apple because data-harvesting is a lot more profitable than selling iPhone hardware. Facebook is valued much higher than Apple and always will be. Consumers love Facebook and Google no matter how much their personal data is used or if there's some data breach every few months. That sort of stuff doesn't matter to consumers as long as they get their daily fix of "free" social media services.

    Apple will always be the big loser. Tim Cook should get off his high horse and focus more on how to keep Apple's value high. Zuckerberg will do anything to increase profits for his company. Tim Cook can't monetize security and privacy so it's not worth anything to Wall Street and big investors. Tim Cook is just wasting his time worrying about privacy and security because almost no on cares about that stuff.

    Most of the consumers in the world are buying Android smartphones and if they're weak on security or privacy, then that's just too bad. Those cheap Android smartphones are what consumers are going to keep buying and Apple's iPhone will be sitting on store shelves. Tim Cook simply doesn't understand human nature as well as Mark Zuckerberg does. P.T. Barnum and Zuckerberg would have worked well together. They both know that there are potential social media addicts being born every minute and they're ripe for data-harvesting.  Facebook sure jumped right ahead of Apple on earnings.  Who cares about data breaches?  Just show me the profits.
    Sure. 

    Facebook just generated $6.88 billion in profit in the holiday quarter. Apple generated $19.9 billion in profit.

    Facebook posted $16.91 billion in revenue, and Apple generated $84.4 billion in revenue.

    So, I guess I'm not sure where you're going with this.
    Lots of people get confused when they see a number followed by a series of zeroes. A friend of mine has an eight-year-old who’s exactly the same. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,643member
    The problem with Google, FB et al is NOT that they collect tons of personal data. At this point, only morons don't know they're the product of FB and Google. The problem with both of them (and to a much lesser degree industry wide) is that there's no transparency on what data is collected, who it is sold to, and how it is used. That's where strict GDPR-type legislation needs to come in.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,273member
    Great article... and I agree. Apple should have pulled all the FB and Google certs... at least temporarily.
    Maybe at least that would have gotten their attention (and the rest of the world to this issue) in a substantial enough way.

    Unfortunately, this is just a tiny news blip in-between fake-news MAGA hat wearing kids and Michael Jackson costumes.... you know, the much more important stuff the MSM concerns itself with. :disappointed:
    watto_cobra
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