‘We Need To Have This Knife Fight.’ Inside Facebook’s Strategy To Bring the War to Apple.
An internal Facebook plan reveals the machinations of a company determined to fend off Apple’s new privacy controls
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“While no one wants to see two trillion-dollar companies having a knife fight,” read the internal strategy document drafted by Facebook executives, “we need to have this knife fight.”
This elegant depiction of boardroom barbarism is hardly surprising. Facebook has a famously pugilistic culture, stemming from the early “move fast and break things” era to the company’s aggressive handling of its latest scandal. And the object of Facebook’s ire here is hardly a surprise either: Apple.
After all, the two Silicon Valley giants have been at each other’s throats for years, competing on messaging, privacy, and clout. Most recently, however, Apple’s been working methodically to cut off Facebook’s ability to track people outside of its app — a move that’s left its advertisers “running blind.”
Facebook obviously didn’t love the idea of getting into a war with Apple, but the company reluctantly resolved it was necessary. The internal document, revealed for the first time here, previewed Facebook’s response to settle on a familiar strategy. In the past, when critics dragged Facebook through the mud for its various scandals, members of its leadership have extolled the value it provides to small businesses who enjoy optimized, targeted advertising on its channels. Once again, Facebook sought to position itself as a company that “levels the playing field” for small businesses, ideas, communities, and underrepresented groups. The rationale, the document noted, was that most people already feel like the economy is weighted against them, favoring the wealthy. Now Facebook could don the white hat and become the solution, thereby subtly positioning Apple as yet another force working against consumers. Anyway, that was the idea.
Naturally, Facebook also acknowledged that this wouldn’t be the easiest case to make. Two-thirds of people polled…