Apple experienced the FaceTime bug early this week and hot on the heels of this discovery, the Cupertino based company was eager and quick to defend their integrity and to assure its consumers they take their privacy seriously, they decided to go after tech giants like Google and Facebook with others like Amazon and Doordash that violate their platform.
in the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of privacy
— Computer Facts (@computerfact) January 30, 2019
Apple Vs Facebook
Facebook was found to be using Apple’s program for internal app distribution to track teenage users with a research app. The app was in clear breach of the social media giants agreement with Apple. The research app was being distributed outside of the Apple’s App store using Apple’s enterprise program that allows developers to use special certificates to install more powerful apps onto iPhones. These apps are only allowed by employees of the owners of the app and Facebook went around this policy and was distributing the tracking app to customers who were being paid $20(Should’ve been more but that’s a story for another day). Facebook pulled up the app after the backlash but Apple still blocked the company. This breach violation made Apple shut down all of Facebook’s internal iOS apps.
Who here had "Tim Cook" in the "what will eventually bring down Facebook?" betting pool
— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) January 30, 2019
With this shutdown, early versions of Facebook’s apps and other beta versions stopped working including one for transportation. The apps even refused to launch on Facebook’s employees’ phones.
Earlier today, Apple restored Facebook’s enterprise certificates and thus their ability to run their internal iOS apps. A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the shut down didn’t affect their consumer-facing services.
It's weird but probably necessary/inevitable that Apple is now Facebook's de facto privacy regulator. https://t.co/zQt4Rx9ZTu
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) January 30, 2019
Facebook has now threatened users of the Research app claiming it that it wasn’t secret. It clearly was after Techcrunch first reported about it.
Facebook threatened Research app users with legal action for publicly discussing the VPN, I’ve learned, yet it claims there was “nothing secret about it”. 🤨
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) January 31, 2019
Apple vs Google
After the row with Facebook, Google was brought into the limelight too. Google also had a similar app to Facebook’s Research app named Screenwise Meter app that monitored how people use their iPhones. Just like Facebook, the app relied on Apple’s enterprise program that allows distribution of internal apps within the company.
My certs have been revoked.
— Shac Ron ₪ (@stuntpants) January 31, 2019
Google’s app rewarded users with gift cards for letting the internet search giant company collect information on their internet usage. Both the Google app and the Facebook app were fully opt-in but the rewards are clearly a bad bargain for users who opted to participate in these programs.
“This was a mistake and we apologize”
Google has since disabled the app and apologized to users following the backlash. Apple is hearing none of it as it shut down its internal apps such as early and beta versions of Google apps, including apps that are only used by Google employees such as the Gbus and café app. So far, Apple has since restored Google’s enterprise certificates and that goes for the app’s functionality too.
Why we should be worried
Facebook and Google are now in Apple’s good side showing Apple isn’t afraid of flexing its muscles to stop tech giants from sidestepping the App store. Apple may have to revamp its enterprise developer program so that this secret practice is not repeated. If Tim Cook and his lieutenants can bring this level of chaos to tech giants, just imagine the power Apple has over us, non-tech giants.
Apple banning the Facebook and Google certs is extremely funny but should also give us pause to think about how much of our daily lives depends on a handful of corporations that have been engaged in a cold war of compatibility for years
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) January 31, 2019