- Facebook stands to lose $10 billion this year due to a change Apple made to the iPhone.
- Last May, Apple added a function to the iPhone to stop brands from tracking you across apps.
- Most users opted out of tracking, which is having a major impact on Facebook's bottom line.
Facebook parent company Meta stands to lose $10 billion this year due to a small, but impactful change Apple made last year.
In April 2021, Apple enabled iPhone users to choose which apps are allowed to track their behavior across other apps. As a result, the vast majority of users opted out — which Meta CFO David Wehner said is hurting Facebook's ad revenue.
"The impact of iOS overall as a headwind on our business in 2022 is on the order of $10 billion," he said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call Wednesday evening.
Meta's primary source of revenue is its advertising business, which is built on the massive database of user information it has from operating some of the world's largest social platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
When Apple gave users the option to cut off those apps from tracking them across other apps, it cut off a primary means of collecting advertising data. The change came as part of Apple's iOS 14.5 update, which launched in April 2021, and forced app publishers to include a pop-up asking for permission to track behavior for ad sales.
If users opt out, Apple cuts off that app from receiving a variety of data used by advertisers.
According to early reports, over 95% of iPhone users who had downloaded the update were opting out of ad tracking — thus, the prediction from Wehner that Facebook's ad revenue will take a $10 billion hit in the coming year.
"We can't be precise on this. It's an estimate," he said. "We're working hard to mitigate those impacts and continue to make ads relevant and effective for users."
Facebook also reported its first-ever decrease in users, and parent company Meta's stock took a major hit as a result: It dropped from as much as 25% from $323 per share at Wednesday's close to $245 on Thursday morning, effectively wiping out $230 billion in market value overnight.
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