Apple debuts creepy ad showing how your data is tracked — why iOS 14 is the solution

Apple ad
Apple ad (Image credit: Apple)

Apple launched a new, unsettling ad that showcases how data tracking would operate if it happened in real life. In the commercial, a gentleman gets into a rideshare, but before he can open his mouth, a stalker hops in and tells the driver the gentleman's name and birthdate. The gentleman's face seems to scream, "How do you know this?"

Throughout the ad, the gentleman grows increasingly frustrated as nosey strangers follow him to the bank, grocery store and even his apartment. These clingy stalkers are analogous to the data trackers that follow you as you surf the web, providing a creepy, disconcerting perspective on the privacy issues that plague the digital world.

Apple reminds users iOS 14 is the best defense against data tracking

Apple's new ad ends on a happy note when the gentleman discovers an iPhone 12. With just a tap, all the creepy strangers in his apartment — the personified data trackers — disappear. This, of course, is all thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature.

What compelled Apple to launch this ad? Well, the iPhone maker stated that the masses have a "limited awareness" of the extensive tracking that occurs on the Internet and in apps. On average, apps come with six third-party trackers that  follow users' online trail and collect their personal information.

This data is compiled, aggregated, shared and monetized, spearheading an industry valued at $227 billion per year. As such, Apple wanted to shed light on this invasive industry. Apple also hopes to convey that iOS 14 is users' best defense against invasive apps.

Apple doubled down on its dedication to preserving user privacy since it introduced iOS 14 at WWDC 2020. Last December, the Cupertino-based tech giant launched “nutrition label” privacy disclosures in the App Store, allowing iOS users to get a clear picture of how their data is used.

In April, Apple rolled out an iOS 14.5 update that came with ATT, which asks users permission on whether they'd like to be tracked by apps. Unsurprisingly, a whopping 96% of iPhone users opted out of data tracking, according to analytics data published this month.

"Apple is not opposed to advertising; we simply think that tracking should be transparent and under user control," Apple said in a statement. "The Apple advertising platform does not track you, nor do any of Apple’s own apps."

If you dare to take an in-depth dive into how apps use your data, check out Apple's full "A Day in the Life of Your Data" report.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!