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New Apple Software Pushes Back Against Facebook

The jury is still on how much people care about the privacy of their data. But Apple, for one, thinks it can be a selling point, as it made clear on the opening day of its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday. Once again, Apple executives took subtle jabs at Facebook and introduced new software features that could hurt usage of the social network.

For instance, Apple showed off a new feature in the Safari web browser that automatically blocks all cookies delivered through share buttons found scattered on many web pages. When Safari users visit a page with a Facebook share button, they will be met with a prompt asking them if they want to give Facebook the ability to track them. It seems unlikely users would willingly accept Facebook’s tracking efforts if given an choice. “We’re shutting that down,” said Apple software head Craig Federighi.

Facebook, like other apps, could also be affected by a new feature in the upcoming iOS 12 called Screen Time that helps users track how long they’re using apps and then set restrictions on how long they should use specific apps. “For some of us, it’s become such a habit we might not recognize how distracted we’ve become,” Federighi said. “We’ve thought deeply about this.”

In an on-stage demo, Mr. Federighi used Facebook-owned Instagram as the app where users can set a time limit in their usage. (Users can of course dismiss the message that they’ve reached their time limit if they want to keep using the app.)

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