Twitter politely asks you to protect its targeted advertising dollars in the new iOS 14.5 prompt

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As part of iOS 14.5, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency forces developers to ask for permission for something they used to be able to do for free: track iOS users. Today, Twitter is joining other developers and adding a prompt asking users to enable tracking on iOS (through MacRumors).

Twitter’s main justification for listening to its request is simple: when enabled, the feature can show “better” ads. The company includes a link to settings so you can make those changes, but read Twitter’s explanation before you decide:

Keep ads relevant to you by allowing Twitter to track information about other companies on this device, such as apps you use and websites you visit.

The company also has a link to a support post in the Twitter Help Center, which explains why it should ask for permission, includes a link to the current app privacy policy, and discusses what enabling or disabling tracking does in iOS.

The new Twitter ad tracking prompt.

It’s a surprisingly low-key attempt to allow users to Twitter to track them, given the company Apple’s addition of App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5 as a potential risk in its recent profit overview (pdf):

We continue to expect total revenue to outpace expenditure in 2021, assuming the global pandemic continues to improve and we see a modest impact from the rollout of changes related to iOS 14.5. How much faster will depend on several factors, including our execution on our direct response roadmap and macroeconomic factors.

Facebook and Instagram have taken a much more aggressive approach to persuade users that ad tracking usage is on the rise – so far as to contain a vague threat that enabling tracking will help keep Facebook / Instagram free.

Companies like Twitter and Facebook rely on tracking users to support their separate, often highly lucrative ad businesses. After all, it’s usually ad sales that pay for free social networks, and customer data helps target those ads. As a company more interested in hardware sales and subscription services, Apple shouldn’t have to worry about that, but rash changes like the new resale rights can confuse developers.

However, transparency of app tracking has proven popular 96 percent of US users opt for tracking according to some recent surveys. And now that Google is considering developing its own methods to block tracking on Android, we may have to get used to apps coming to us begging for free data.