Apple blocks Facebook update that called out 30-percent App Store ‘tax’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple blocked Facebook from informing users that Apple would collect 30 percent of in-app purchases made through a planned new feature, Facebook tells Reuters. Apple said the update violated an App Store rule that doesn’t let developers show “irrelevant” information to users.

The feature lets Facebook users buy tickets for online events directly through the app. Apple’s rules say that purchases of digital content have to use the App Store’s payments system, giving Apple 30 percent of the total. Facebook says it asked Apple to waive this fee so that all of the revenue could go to event organizers, but Apple refused. The feature is now available, but without the message about Apple’s 30-percent cut.

Earlier this month, Facebook released an image showing what the message would look like in the app.

Image: Facebook

The planned message on Android was expected to read “Facebook doesn’t take a fee from this purchase.” According to Reuters, that message doesn’t show up in the version of the app downloaded through Google Play, either.

“Now more than ever, we should have the option to help people understand where money they intend for small businesses actually goes,” Facebook said in a statement to Reuters. “Unfortunately Apple rejected our transparency notice around their 30-percent tax but we are still working to make that information available inside the app experience.”

It’s unclear how exactly Facebook could go about doing that, and it’s not surprising that Apple blocked the notice. Apple has been strict on apps that try to explain App Store policies — apps like Netflix, Kindle, and Spotify, for example, aren’t allowed to mention that users could pay on the web without Apple taking a cut, much less provide a link to do so.

What does seem clear is that by conducting this business in public, previewing a feature that was unlikely to get approved in its intended state, Facebook is attempting to drive further conversation around Apple’s App Store policies, which have never been more controversial. In recent months, developers from email client Hey to Fortnite creators Epic Games have gone public with a litany of complaints, mostly involving Apple’s insistence on controlling in-app purchases.


Facebook? Trying to be transparent? What a joke. This is so obviously trying to tag on to Epic that it seems like an insult.

Facebook did the right move tho. Change the dialogue in the App & convene with Apple about better means to provide transparency. If Apple is unwilling to budge, sue them. Go legal. Don’t go rogue & plan full on Ad campaigns and PR stunts putting users & small businesses on your platform at risk. I respect Facebook in THIS circumstance.

They removed it because Apple forced them, there’s no other reason.

It doesn’t change the fact that Apples rules are greedy and selfish. It’s why Apple has a ton of antitrust litigations against them from governments around the world, its own developers, as well as others.

Apple needs to be stopped, because if Apple was running a retail shop, than Apple would not be able to get away with more than half the crap they do to others. Think about it, Apple makes all the rules, sets all the terms and policies, and Apple has even bent their own rules and policies in the past to suit Apples needs, and they have done that on numerous occasions. It’s always been Apples way or you take the highway. Plus Apple is the Judge, Jury, and the Executioner, of all apps on the app store.

On a number of occasions Apple has decided to ban certain apps, because Apple wanted to compete with other apps, which they should not be allowed to compete with any existing apps on their app store, because Apple doesn’t have to pay any 30% fee. Look at Spotify, Netflix, and lots of other apps. Apple themselves has an unfair advantage over everyone on the app store. Plus Apple has bulky other developers and their apps into doing other things, or removing words that mention going to the app owners own webiste for certain things, which is just BS.

Ask yourself this, why did Apple have to ban ALL of Epics other apps, especially when none of those apps were in violation of any of Apples rules or policies. Google never banned any of Epics developer accounts, or they never banned any of Epics apps, except the only app that violated both app stores, and that was Fortnite.

Therefore Apple is showing the world that they are a mean bully.

Mean bully? How old are we?

Their rules as standard. Their cuts are standard. Every Billion dollar business is selfish. Including Epic.

Epic chose to prepare and launch a PR stunt against Apple instead of just suing them & complying to the terms they agreed to.

Apple DOES run retail shops. They are one of many. You don’t have the right to force Walmart to allow you to setup your own register in their store for your clothes. You can’t just open up a Gap Store inside of a Walmart without their oversight or giving them a cut of what you earn. It doesn’t work that way.

That brand has many other Malls and strip Malls they could bring their products to if they don’t want to comply with Walmart’s terms and pay their industry standard cut. This idea that just because they are making the most money, even though they are the minority in their industry (just like Apple is the minority in the computing industry), you should have the right to make more money from them, is ludicrous.

In regards to them competing against other Apps in their App Store and them favoring their Apps over others. I agree to an extent! That’s a COMPLETELY separate topic tho. You’re trying to conflate everything under one umbrella when all things deserve their own set of analysis. Google does this same thing. As does Amazon & Samsung. It’s a problem with the tech industry as a whole. They’re all "bullies" in that regard. That’s a different topic from a company breaking TOS & reversing course to work out a mutual agreement or sue for their right of transparency.

Apple banned them because it was within their rights to according to the TOS. Epic also egregiously attacked Apple & made this situation a PR stunt vs going the professional route and suing Apple & Google without the theatrics. Epic also crippled the macOS version of Fortnite for no reason but to attack Apple. Notably, Epic did none of this with Google. They’ve been targeting Apple from the beginning, even BEFORE this fiasco began by preparing to target Apple. So Apple leveraged the full scope of their power according to the TOS Epic agreed to.

Epic chose to put their customers purchases and even developers livelihoods on the line by creating this PR stunt. They have bullied 3 tiers of individuals all for the sale of a PR campaign for their new update.

This view oddly gives Apple ownership of your device. You know, the one you already paid them for.

Pretending that Apple owns the Mall misses the point. Apple owns the App Store, but they shouldn’t be able to control what an app on my device later allows me to do. Best Buy doesn’t get to determine what apps I install on my device once I purchase it. Best Buy doesn’t get a cut of every dollar later spent on a device sold in its stores. Imagine if Best Buy (or any other retail store) demanded they get a cut of every purchase made on a Windows PC sold in their store. We’d think that’s ridiculous. Why should it be any different with Apple? If a developer wants to use Apple for payment processing because it’s easy and quick to implement, I have no problem with that. But forcing everyone to submit to 30% off the top because they can is abuse of monopolistic power. It needs to end.

Apple builds a suite of tools that enable developers to create some of the most advanced and elegant apps available today. No other device provides such a comprehensive developer experience to take advantage of the hardware of billions of devices and guarantee that your app will be supported for years to come.

AI, hardware acceleration, biometric security, in-app purchased and subscriptions, and access to the pockets of more people than any other device can promise for a longer support period than any other device. It’s truly incredible.

This isn’t free. Apple has spent so much effort ensuring developers have the best tools available to create the best apps possible. They’ve pioneered this space.

This isn’t a 30% cut for the sake of it. It’s literally the cost to use all of the software and services they’ve created for developers.

You don’t get to listen to Spotify for free just because it’s on "your phone".

And developers don’t get to use all of apples dev resources for free just because their app eventually gets installed on "your phone".

I think you’re valuing the dev resources way higher than they’re actually worth. Apple provides those resources because they have to to allow apps to work on their devices, which adds value to the devices. Basically, it’s a two-way street. Also, I do get to listen to Spotify for free on my phone if I purchase a subscription on their website. Frankly, I think Apple being greedy is often costing them some money they could otherwise make by processing payments for services that currently shun the App Store and basically force you to pay through their website. Netflix, Microsoft 365, Amazon Digital services like kindle books, etc. Apple could be making money on all of these but currently makes nothing.

Apple built the store so if it’s theirs to lose developers over greed, it’s also theirs to control. Why else would they build if not to control it? Just like any physical or digital store owner, they are free to eject any developer, especially ones that are attacking their platform and threatening lawsuits and regulation.

Which gives them leverage to sue Apple or work out a fair balance between the two without taking that route. I’m unsure what you didn’t get from my initial statement.

Yeah, because this was totally about the app store and totally not about Apple about to cut Facebook off from selling iPhone users out of app data to advertisers in iOS 14.

Facebook just trying to put some pressure on Apple and Apple is not giving a shit because it still believes its customers are customers and not products. But I’m sure some spin-doctor out there at Facebook is happy he has you and the 45 that rec’d you fooled.

Apple doesn’t care about you, they just want your money.

Facebook doesn’t care about you, they just want your data… and advertisers money.

Facebook was trying to help out small businesses. Try and remember Facebook is not making a thing from this when you use their services. Yet Apple is making 30% off of the people that use Facebooks app. Facebook went to Apple first and said let’s help out the small businesses, but Apple wanted none of that.

So once again Apple is showing the world how selfish and greedy they truly are.

Not really different from Apple though… Apple run their own ad network now, and they have even more data on you than Facebook does. Since all purchases from iPhone apps need to use their payments platform, they know everything you’re purchasing via your phone.

We don’t care if a company likes us or not but how they get our money does matter regardless of our feelings.

It’s funny that you think Apple believes its customers are customers and not products. The way they’re treating the App Store shows just the opposite. Apple knows it’s customers are in fact the product, and they have the power to keep other companies from reaching those customers (products) or exacting an extremely high rent (30%) for the privilege of accessing its customers (products). That’s what this whole thing is about.

And there is the hypocritical reason saying Apple taking 30% is irrelevant, but saying Facebook doesn’t take a fee is not irrelevant. Both increase transparency to the user. And let’s face it and cut the BS, Apple just doesn’t want the user to know they are taking a 30% bite. They want the user to stay oblivious to what happens behind the scenes. I don’t know if it is fair, moral or whatever, but disguising it under an "irrelevancy" that falls apart on different examples is clearly misleading.

Hypocritical? What? I never said anything was irrelevant. Not getting you. I do agree however that transparency is necessary & should be required. Apple has the right to request their cut, they should also be required to be transparent about it.

I have a strong feeling come 2021 we’re going to see a major overhaul in how Apple handles purchases, transparency & maybe even how much of a cut they take for certain types of transactions. It’s clear that their industry standard cut may need revisiting and adjustments for certain circumstances like this.

When Apple is clearly in the wrong, or inconsistent and unclear with their own stated/written policies and Facebook calls them out on their greed and their stubbornness to hide it, i will side with Facebook. When Facebook gets called out on privacy and user data issues by Apple, i will side with Apple. That’s how things should work, not just camp on the side of your favourite oppressor.

But hey, you’re probably American.

I’m American & I agree. It’s ok to have strong positions for or against a brand you may like.

But it doesn’t make it true. Something you might want to think about…

Truth is relative in grey areas. Something you might want to think about… group think isn’t always a reflection of truth, on both sides of any fence.

It’s true that Apple takes 30%. It’s a very relevant information for customers.

It is okay to have strong positions, and that’s part of being an American.

Another part of being an American is the judicial system, the laws and the rights of people and companies as defined by those laws and doctrines.

That means you need to follow the legal means to take your beef up with Apple, not violate a legal agreement to get your point across.

This isn’t a protest; it’s a violation of a legally binding agreement.

Apple’s position may not seem moral to you, but if you (or Facebook) wants to fight it, it should be done through the established legal system, not by shady practices.

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