Apple is making a change to the iPhone's iOS operating system. Its next version 14 no longer allows users to be tracked using the device's unique identity for advertisers (idfa) without the user's express consent. Facebook’s Audience Network tool allows other app developers to use the tag to target ads.

Apple’s restriction doesn’t just apply to Facebook, but some giants believe it will do significant damage to their business and to businesses that depend on targeted ads. Facebook published a blog post about the issue, which was reported by Business Insider, among others. Facebook says it will have to stop using the tag in its apps on iOS14 devices.

- We don't want to make this change, but unfortunately Apple's upgrades to iOS14 are forcing it. We know this can seriously affect publishers ’ability to make money using the Audience Network on iOS14 and, despite our efforts, can make Audience Network so inefficient on iOS14 that it may not make sense to offer it in the future, Facebook writes.

Facebook anticipates that the change could drop Audience Network users ’sales by half or more when ad targeting is removed. Facebook believes small businesses in particular will run into difficulties because many of them depend on ads.

Facebook, user data collection, and ad targeting are all things that privacy-conscious users have been concerned about for years. Apple’s change is likely to be welcomed by a large number of users, and it’s not clear how badly it will ultimately hurt even Facebook. Audience Network is just one source of revenue for Facebook, although its scale is a mystery.

According to a study conducted by AdGuard in 2018, Audience Network does much more than enable targeted advertising. At least on Android phones, the feature could even reveal money transfers made by users, AdGuard estimates. It was not clear to what extent the findings also applied to iPhones.

  • Read more: Facebook can track your phone even if the app isn't even installed - you may even see money transfers