A “massive” Facebook hiring freeze has been announced, which the company says will affect “almost every team across the company.”

Parent company Meta told employees that four factors were behind the decision, and that Apple’s introduction of App Tracking Transparency was the first of these …

Business Insider got access to a memo sent to all employees by chief financial officer David Wehner. In it, he lists four factors responsible for slowing revenue growth and increased costs. Apple’s introduction of App Tracking Transparency is the first one listed.

  • “Loss of signal from iOS changes”
  • The war in Ukraine
  • The “general macroeconomic environment”
  • Easing of lockdowns resulting in people spending less time online

The first point relates to App Tracking Transparency (ATT). This makes it harder for advertisers to target consumers with specific interests, and harder for the company to prove that Facebook ads are effective.

Facebook has repeatedly complained about the impact to its ad model, disingenuously claiming that it was concerned about small businesses, and not the multi-billion dollar impact to its own revenue. The memo, however, tells a different story.

We’re facing headwinds including slower revenue growth than anticipated at the start of the year. This is due to a number of factors including the loss of signal from iOS changes, business challenges resulting from the war in Ukraine, and the general macroeconomic environment. Also […] as the pandemic restrictions have lifted, more people are spending time offline and returning to pre-pandemic spending patterns.

This was followed by a memo from global recruitment head Miranda Kalinowski, who said that engineering roles would be significantly hit.

We’re still working out what this means for each org, but this will affect hiring goals for almost every team across the company. Based on this refreshed guidance, we know we need to adjust our hiring targets across the board starting with Eng[ineering].

She says there will be an immediate pause on most engineering hiring, with no further job offers to be made except for roles labelled ML IC5+ and IC7+, which would appear to describe more senior roles in machine learning.

As is usual when large companies deliver bad news, Wehner’s memo tries to end on an upbeat note, including the company’s attempts to use AI to replace the data lost through ATT.

We’re in a strong position with a healthy business, and we feel optimistic about the opportunities to re-accelerate growth, particularly through unlocking new revenue streams through Reels monetization, incorporating AI into our ads system to overcome signal loss from iOS changes, growing business messaging and bringing the metaverse to life. But we also have to be responsible by responding to the unpredictable market forces that have put pressure on our business over the past few months. In practice, this is a valuable forcing function to make sure we’re prioritizing more effectively and are all working on the most important things.

Apple has always said that the move is about allowing customers to choose to protect their own privacy, and only impacts on Facebook’s business if consumers opt out of tracking.

We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.

Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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