Apple blocked Facebook’s update that would have informed users that the smartphone giant collects a 30% fee on all in app-purchases. The social media company told Reuters that Apple blocked the update citing violations of the App Store rules.
Facebook introduced a new app feature that lets users buy tickets for online events directly through its app. However, Apple rules state that all in-app purchases will be subjected to a 30% fee. The smartphone company also demands purchases to be done through the App Payment system, something many developers are opposed to.
Facebook noted that it asked Apple to forgo the 30% fee but the company declined the request. Although Facebook’s new events feature is still available on the app, the notification letting users know Apple takes a 30% cut on the price has been removed. The social media company also had a similar, but differently worded disclaimer for its Android app on the Play Store, which also charges commissions on in-app purchases.
The Play Store disclaimer was supposed to read “Facebook doesn’t take a fee from this purchase.” Interestingly enough, that notification is also missing on the Android app. It seems like Google and Apple are all reading from the same page. Facebook released a statement expressing disappointment towards Apple’s decision.
The company said that “now more than ever”, it should have the option to “help people understand where the money they intend for small businesses actually goes.” Facebook, however, noted that it’s looking for other ways to make these disclaimers available to its users. It’s not clear though how the social media company intends to do that.
Over the last few months, Apple has made it harder for companies to explain App Store policy to their users. In fact, companies like Netflix, Kindle, and others are not allowed to tell users that there’s another payment option for their services other than the Apple Store system. Apple doesn’t even allow these companies to suggest to their users to pay directly for the service. This, according to Apple, is a violation of the App Store policy.
The smartphone giant, in fact, recently removed the Fortnite app from the app store for these types of violations. There’s a lawsuit in court right now challenging that decision and just recently, Microsoft joined the suit in favor of Fortnite. Many experts also believe that Facebook’s decision to add the notification isn’t entirely coincidental. The social media company knew of course that the update would be blocked.
The long-term goal for Facebook it seems is to drive the conversation about these App Store policies, something that many app creators feel are unfair. The 30% tax is by far the most controversial policy in App Store history, even though it’s been around for years. It looks like a blatant attempt for the smartphone company to fully control all in-app purchases. However, some companies like Amazon have already negotiated an exception from this tax, something that caused massive developer outrage.