Scott Galvin

Apps want to track you. Don’t let them.

As of May 2021, and the release of iOS 14.5, Apple has rolled out a new feature which prevents apps from tracking you. Facebook, the $86B (2020) advertising giant behind Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and Novi Financial, is unhappy about this change, because it’s key to their strategy of showing you behaviorally targeted advertising.

Apple has put a gate up between you and your apps by letting you ask an app to not track you. By asking them to not track you, Apple won’t provide the app with a unique identifier for your device, known as the IDFA, or ‘Identifier For Advertisers’. Advertisers and app makers will always find ways to track and group visitors/users, perhaps using your IP address, your browser history, data about nearby cell phone towers or Wi-Fi router names, and even the names of other apps on your phone. Apple has drawn a line in the sand and as a consumer, I’m all for this.

How smartphone apps track users and share data, Financial Times, 2018

Your mobile apps are tracking you, Internet Health Report, 2019

Here’s how to turn it off

If you see a request to track your activity, tap Ask App Not to Track.

How to modify tracking for apps

Settings > Privacy > Tracking

(I have this turned off – don’t even ask me, I’m not going to allow it)