Exclusive: Facebook says Apple rejected its attempt to tell users about App Store fees

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration

By Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc on Thursday told Reuters that Apple Inc rejected its attempt to tell users the iPhone maker would take a 30% cut of sales in a new online events feature, forcing Facebook to remove the message to get the tool to users.

Facebook said that Apple cited an App Store rule that bars developers from showing “irrelevant” information to users.

“Now more than ever, we should have the option to help people understand where money they intend for small businesses actually goes. Unfortunately Apple rejected our transparency notice around their 30% tax but we are still working to make that information available inside the app experience,” Facebook said in a statement.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Facebook earlier this month said it planned to roll out a new tool that would let online influencers and other businesses host paid online events as a way to offset revenue lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said it had asked Apple to waive the 30% fee the iPhone maker charges for in-app purchases so Facebook could pass on all of the events revenue to business owners, but that Apple declined.

Facebook had aimed to provide a notice of Apple’s cut to users, according to mock-ups it released at the time, but Reuters found on Thursday that the promised message was not present on the new events feature.

The social media giant also planned to tell users on Alphabet Inc’s Google Play store it would not collect a fee for ticket sales, but that message was not displayed either, Reuters found.

In publicly criticizing Apple’s App Store commissions, Facebook joined other developers such as “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, which is suing Apple on antitrust allegations over the fees. Facebook is also wrangling with Apple over new privacy rules for iPhones that will require more notifications before tracking users across apps.

Both companies, along with fellow tech giants Alphabet and Amazon, are facing multiple probes over alleged anticompetitive behavior.

(Reporting by Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler)