How Apple can help kill Facebook

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
Facebook has grown very problematic in recent years, having gone from a benign friends aggregator to a monolith literally capable of destroying democracy as we know it. My intention for this thread isn't to politicize the topic. After all, whether you're conservative or liberal, we all value democracy. Instead, let's focus on what Apple can do to start replacing core features that Facebook offers. If any app ever deserved to be Sherlocked, it's Facebook.

I'm not suggesting that Apple become Facebook but social features are already all over iOS. iMessage is its own social network in of itself. Photos allows you to share albums with friends who can like and comment on your photos. iMusic allows you to follow friends and their musical tastes.

We're already seeing Apple hurting Facebook, whether deliberately or as a side effect. First, Safari privacy features that prevent cross website tracking, hits at the heart of Facebook and Google's entire business plan. Sign In With Apple hits Facebook directly, giving users a way to sign in to websites, bypassing Facebook's popular sign in and denying Zuckerberg's company the ability to track users across the web — another major revenue source for the social network.

The Photos app has the potential to replace the reason why people use Facebook. Everyone on iOS already uses the Photos app. Alongside the camera app, it's probably the most used app on iOS. Photos added friends sharing features that use machine learning to determine when friends were in the same place at the same time, taking pictures of what looks to be the same event, then suggesting everyone share these photos with each other with a single button that creates a shared album. If this becomes widespread, there will be fewer reasons to share photo albums on a social network.

But the central place for a social experience built into iOS is iMessage. What's missing is a profile page that iMessage users could set up that would aggregate their shared Photo albums, Apple Music playlists, liked Apple News articles, viewed AppleTV+ shows.

To me, it seems that Apple has been gradually implementing social features, not in an Apple Social Network app, but deeply integrated into the iOS itself and across Apple's apps. What would it take for Apple to completely Sherlock Facebook?
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
What you propose is impossible. Mac and iOS users are a minority of computer/device users worldwide.
Good point. But to be clear, when I say “Sherlock” an app, I mean on Apple‘s platforms in the same that Apple killed Sherlock on iOS by integrating its functions into the OS.

But perhaps this brings up a bigger discussion of enabling iOS users to share with Android users as the way to kill Facebook entirely.

Right now, you can technically share albums with Android users via the iCloud website but better integration could happen over a cross platform iMessage app where users’ photo albums would appear in their profile when tapping their photo in a Message.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
Then there is this.

6016F397-8680-436D-8B8A-A2D59A168E29.jpeg

Apple intercepted Facebook trying to track me on an unrelated website (WestJet) and gave me an opt out.

This is the kind of stuff we’ve been seeing Apple do more of lately. And even though Apple users aren’t the majority of smartphone users worldwide, losing all iOS and Mac users — which have been statistically shown to be those with higher spending potential and thus more attractive to advertisers — losing those users is bound to have a severe effect on Facebook’s business model and consequently their revenue.
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,861
1,909
Australia, Perth
Well, whats wrong with that ? That's Apple protecting you, and good job for them at that. If Apple killed Facebook, wouldn't that also be anti-competitive ?

Eveyone has a right to play in Apple's sandbox... as Apple takes care of "it's users" The tight integration of social stuff is just more convenient ? Why should that automatically be a bad thing? As long as someting serous doesn't happen that is, and if Apple is all about security and privacy, then you wouldn't just blindly walk into danger either without first checking to make sure it's safe.

In other words: Apple knows what it's doing.
 
Last edited:

okieoutwest

macrumors member
Sep 14, 2019
74
72
california
I think this is interesting. Thanks for posting.
But what if the future is disaggregated not centralized? Already there are friends I want to follow on Spotify but not on Instagram. On Twitter but not on YouTube. I think the current Apple mechanisms allow for that and I question if the age of centralized social media (one platform to rule them all) isn’t already peaked/over.

Your post reminds me of a vision set out about taking back ownership of our data as well, which I think is important and overdue, from Aral Balkan: https://ar.al/notes/encouraging-individual-sovereignty-and-a-healthy-commons/
 

Solomani

macrumors 68040
Sep 25, 2012
3,906
7,536
Alberto, Canado
Facebook has grown very problematic in recent years, having gone from a benign friends aggregator to a monolith literally capable of destroying democracy as we know it. My intention for this thread isn't to politicize the topic. After all, whether you're conservative or liberal, we all value democracy. Instead, let's focus on what Apple can do to start replacing core features that Facebook offers. If any app ever deserved to be Sherlocked, it's Facebook.

I'm not suggesting that Apple become Facebook but social features are already all over iOS. iMessage is its own social network in of itself. Photos allows you to share albums with friends who can like and comment on your photos. iMusic allows you to follow friends and their musical tastes.

We're already seeing Apple hurting Facebook, whether deliberately or as a side effect. First, Safari privacy features that prevent cross website tracking, hits at the heart of Facebook and Google's entire business plan. Sign In With Apple hits Facebook directly, giving users a way to sign in to websites, bypassing Facebook's popular sign in and denying Zuckerberg's company the ability to track users across the web — another major revenue source for the social network.

The Photos app has the potential to replace the reason why people use Facebook. Everyone on iOS already uses the Photos app. Alongside the camera app, it's probably the most used app on iOS. Photos added friends sharing features that use machine learning to determine when friends were in the same place at the same time, taking pictures of what looks to be the same event, then suggesting everyone share these photos with each other with a single button that creates a shared album. If this becomes widespread, there will be fewer reasons to share photo albums on a social network.

But the central place for a social experience built into iOS is iMessage. What's missing is a profile page that iMessage users could set up that would aggregate their shared Photo albums, Apple Music playlists, liked Apple News articles, viewed AppleTV+ shows.

To me, it seems that Apple has been gradually implementing social features, not in an Apple Social Network app, but deeply integrated into the iOS itself and across Apple's apps. What would it take for Apple to completely Sherlock Facebook?
Honestly, I doubt Apple can do anything to "kill" Facebook. FB is a tech juggernaut just like Apple. And more people in the world use FB than they use Apple devices.

I think Apple is already in the right direction... by doing pre-emptive actions to protect its Apple users from FB privacy intrusion. Can Apple do more? Maybe.

In the end, IMHO, only government regulators can twist FB's arm and force it to behave. What's funny is that the rabid EU regulators spend considerable effort trying to hurt hinder and threaten Apple with lawsuits every single week. You never hear news about them actually going after FB. If there is news of that happening, it's muted, and the Sheep of the Planet generally give Facebook a pass.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
Honestly, I doubt Apple can do anything to "kill" Facebook. FB is a tech juggernaut just like Apple. And more people in the world use FB than they use Apple devices.

I think Apple is already in the right direction... by doing pre-emptive actions to protect its Apple users from FB privacy intrusion. Can Apple do more? Maybe.

In the end, IMHO, only government regulators can twist FB's arm and force it to behave. What's funny is that the rabid EU regulators spend considerable effort trying to hurt hinder and threaten Apple with lawsuits every single week. You never hear news about them actually going after FB. If there is news of that happening, it's muted, and the Sheep of the Planet generally give Facebook a pass.
I don’t know. Apple controls the keys to the highest spending consumers. Many of the billions of Android phones and cheap Windows PCs out in the world mean very little to advertisers. Ads hope to target consumers who are more likely to buy whatever product is being pitched and Apple users represent a heavily disproportionate segment of that demographic. Studies have shown consistently that people who buy Apple products, spend more on other things as well. We already know that intuitively given how Apple users are willing to spend money on the App Store whereas Android users are typically looking for sideloaded freebies.

Apple hasn’t been shy about Sherlocking apps before. Facebook is a giant but it’s only a giant because of its advertising and data mining operations. If Apple cuts off that revenue potential, both by protecting users privacy from tracking and secondly by offering built in features that replaces Facebook natively, then Facebook will have to become something else entirely or vanish.

I’m guilty of using Facebook’s products, because there aren’t better alternatives and peer pressure. Let’s start there.

I really dislike WhatsApp but my core family uses it because they’re a mix of Android and iPhone. Making iMessage cross platform would likely prove a threat to WhatsApp because people who have iPhones do love iMessage and those who don’t only thinly disguise their jealously of blue bubbles.

Instagram has been the world’s most popular social media platform, and for me as a photographer, I can’t afford to not be on it. But just like Facebook itself rose to the highest peak and is now relegated to a place for old people to share chain memes and shout at the government, IG is being superseded by Tik Tok. I wonder if Apple could introduce something like Stories inside of iMessage. Share them on iMessage and your friends would see them in their feed.
 

Starfia

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2011
675
352
Enjoyable discussion.

Apple has become a company that primarily sells hardware. Software as well? Yes (pro software especially), but their strategy has shifted last decade to providing high-quality consumer software for free as enticement to buy hardware. And to those users, they also sell content (music, movies, etc.) and services (iCloud, AppleTV+, etc.).

Facebook's business has always been about handling and selling data and ads. "The users are the product," so Facebook has tried to get lots of users and connect them to lots of others. It has become a reliable enough way to get in touch with people not in your contacts, that some people don't even care about their contacts – they can just look people up on Facebook. When I left Facebook this month (hooray), friends told me they'd like to leave but felt their connectivity was too much to give up.

Apple is an industry leader on firm privacy values, expressed outwardly and implemented inwardly. Would Apple want to emulate Facebook's primary functions? They tried Ping, but the point was to churn up interest in buying music. They have connected people with Messages and Photos, but those feel more like deliberately localized and personal affairs, closer to an extension of Contacts than anything approaching connections outside one's circle.

The closer thing they've done, that I can think of, is providing web-based community support threads and developer forums, but those are narrow in scope and don't try to be a marketable product.

All that said, I would not be surprised if they've been thinking internally as you have here. If they do anything social, it's going to be based on foundational principles that seem distinct and alien to Facebook's.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Solomani

mmomega

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2009
3,554
1,723
DFW, TX
There is no killing it when practically every person with a phone puts so much value in to it. People care about their Facebook pages sometimes more than actual relationships. My older sister lives in a fantasy facebook world... oh nevermind, sore subject. 😂
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,587
3,484
Enjoyable discussion.

Apple has become a company that primarily sells hardware. Software as well? Yes (pro software especially), but their strategy has shifted last decade to providing high-quality consumer software for free as enticement to buy hardware. And to those users, they also sell content (music, movies, etc.) and services (iCloud, AppleTV+, etc.)
Apple was a company that primarily sells hardware. Now, they make more money from “services” than from Macs.
 

Starfia

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2011
675
352
Apple was a company that primarily sells hardware. Now, they make more money from “services” than from Macs.
Over 85% of Apple revenue last quarter was from hardware.

 
  • Like
Reactions: planteater

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,587
3,484
Over 85% of Apple revenue last quarter was from hardware.

Apple used to be almost exclusively a hardware company, but are moving away from that, not toward it. Services used to be a tiny fraction of revenue, which is certainly no longer true.
 

Starfia

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2011
675
352
Apple used to be almost exclusively a hardware company, but are moving away from that, not toward it. Services used to be a tiny fraction of revenue, which is certainly no longer true.
And they used to charge $130 US for every major operating system upgrade and encourage every Mac user to make at least one or two per machine. They also charged for iLife and iWork software and upgrades, as well as much higher prices for their pro apps. Their strategy has been to switch to offering most of that for free, or in the case of pro apps, a minimal fraction of what they once charged. That's all consistent with my original entry, and even so, it's not directly relevant to the point of the thread.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Nightfury326

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
The dominoes are falling and Zuckerberg is getting cornered:


I'd love nothing more than for Apple to accelerate moves to kill off Facebook while they're down.

Ultimately, the biggest move Apple could make in this regard would be to make iMessage and FaceTime cross platform. Maybe withhold some features for the iPhone (i.e. Animoji and Memoji) but having a way to reach everyone with iMessage that is the app Android users confess to wanting the most, would begin to kill of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

As for Facebook itself, more obvious sharing features in the Photos app would kill off the need to share photos within Facebook.

Apple News has the potential to fill the role of Facebook's News feed. Enable users to follow their friends in AppleNews like they do with Apple Music, and liked news articles would show up for friends. Maybe iMessage is the way to bring this together in a social feed. Liked Apple News articles, Apple Music playlists, shared Photo albums, etc would appear under a user's profile in iMessage.

Overall, Apple doesn't need to build its own social network, it just needs to introduce social features across iOS. They're not far from this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Nightfury326

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,917
1,615
I don't like Facebook one bit but I don't see how Apple would be a better overlord. Even with end-to-end authenticated encryption, Apple could still see or modify what its users are sharing or doing because it controls the endpoint software. I would want no opportunity for either Apple-imposed or government-requested censorship.

There would also still be a propaganda problem. I don't want Apple telling me what I should think about any topics whatsoever, and any Facebook replacement would still allow the injection of sponsored messages to rally people to one cause or another.

If anything, a social network company that also controls the end user application software, and the operating system, and the hardware running it even down to fabricating the CPU itself is a much bigger problem for democracy than Facebook ever could be.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
I don't like Facebook one bit but I don't see how Apple would be a better overlord. Even with end-to-end authenticated encryption, Apple could still see or modify what its users are sharing or doing because it controls the endpoint software. I would want no opportunity for either Apple-imposed or government-requested censorship.

There would also still be a propaganda problem. I don't want Apple telling me what I should think about any topics whatsoever, and any Facebook replacement would still allow the injection of sponsored messages to rally people to one cause or another.

If anything, a social network company that also controls the end user application software, and the operating system, and the hardware running it even down to fabricating the CPU itself is a much bigger problem for democracy than Facebook ever could be.
Sponsored messages? Huh? Have you seen anything in Apple’s entire history where they’ve done this? Apple has never commercialized or even shown any hint of commercializing the Messages app in any way, shape or form. Everything I share with friends in messages is encrypted and it would preposterous to have Apple pop in and say: nope, can’t send this message because it doesn’t line up with our beliefs. This is crazy town to even suggest Apple woulld do that. On the other hand, Facebook is doing it and Apple (and Google on the Android side) are in the best position to weaken Facebook’s iron grip on social media.
 

556fmjoe

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2014
1,917
1,615
Sponsored messages? Huh? Have you seen anything in Apple’s entire history where they’ve done this? Apple has never commercialized or even shown any hint of commercializing the Messages app in any way, shape or form. Everything I share with friends in messages is encrypted and it would preposterous to have Apple pop in and say: nope, can’t send this message because it doesn’t line up with our beliefs. This is crazy town to even suggest Apple woulld do that. On the other hand, Facebook is doing it and Apple (and Google on the Android side) are in the best position to weaken Facebook’s iron grip on social media.
A very tiny fraction of people use iMessages compared to Facebook. If they had social media service with a userbase of Facebook' size, things would be different, and I'm not talking about commercialization.

"Like you, I was shocked and saddened to hear that the killer used Ping to spread his message of hate. Here at Apple, we recognize that things have to change. That's why Apple has introduced new zero tolerance policy for racism, bigotry, and anti-LGBTQ posts. Users can now report hateful messages simply by tapping the button in the lower right corner and the post will be removed for review. In addition, we will be expanding our AI capabilities to automatically flag and remove content deemed unacceptable according to our revised policy." --Tim Cook, June 2027.
 

SegNerd

macrumors member
Feb 28, 2020
30
33
I have always been suspicious of Facebook and have never used it. I have also long believed that Apple is the only company in a position to create an alternative social network that could become popular without jeopardizing people's privacy.

Apple allows some of its services to be used on non-Apple devices, and I don't see why this couldn't be one of them.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Original poster
Nov 30, 2004
5,201
5,950
Toronto, ON
It’s happening. In subtle ways, you can see Apple’s plays chipping away at Facebook’s clutch on the Internet.

Tile just removed Facebook login “due to changes in Apple’s policies”.
0D5F2E4F-BEFE-4C49-BA12-FA0D56D448A8.jpeg


This is of course about Sign In With Apple. Giving people the option to use Apple’s anonymous sign in method will begin ending Facebook’s monopoly on tracking people around the Internet, from site to site, app to app.

But it gets bigger: App Clips, introduced at WWDC, work exclusively with Sign In With Apple. Facebook sign in is not allowed.

This is bigger than people are noticing right now. App Clips will be everywhere in cities. From tapping a scooter to rent it, to tapping a parking meter to pay, to tapping a counter at a cafe to order your drink or a table at a restaurant to bring up the menu.

Facebook will have *none* of that data. This is going to hurt them. Whether or not Apple is doing this deliberately or just “accidentally” killing Facebook by a thousand cuts is up for debate, I guess. To me, it seems very intentional.
 
  • Like
Reactions: decafjava

chengengaun

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2012
110
287
The best defense against Facebook is to not install or use it period.
Unfortunately, Facebook can and does collect data about people who are not using its services. That is something I detest and more needs to be done about it.

Apple is a corporation whose goal is to make money and increase shareholder value.
I guess when it comes to business it is all a matter of interests. If we vote with our money and do business with corporations that align with certain values (e.g. respect for privacy), collectively that might have an effect.
 

Puonti

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2011
892
403
I guess when it comes to business it is all a matter of interests. If we vote with our money and do business with corporations that align with certain values (e.g. respect for privacy), collectively that might have an effect.
Yep.

Unfortunately some are unable to do that. Even on these forums you see a lot of people who want to "vote with their wallets" to oppose Apple's prices because their particular combination of income, expenses, tastes and upgrade cycle isn't compatible with Apple's hardware schedule and pricing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chengengaun
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.