Apple is now requiring social media companies to offer in-app account deletion after updating its App Store Review Guidelines on June 30.
Social media companies will now be required to offer in-app account deletion on iOS to remain in compliance with Apple’s updated App Store Review Guidelines, which must be followed in order to be listed on the platform. The company has strict expectations for apps on its App Store that it claims helps foster a safe environment that protects the end user. However, it can be difficult for new apps to be listed on the store for that reason, and some apps struggle to stay in compliance. Other developers take exception to the policies altogether, like Epic Games, who has litigated with Apple after challenging its in-app purchase requirements. There’s now a new guideline that ups the standard of social media’s account creation and deletion on the App Store.
In recent years, Apple has gone to great lengths to keep applications and services — namely social media platforms — in check while they are being used on the company’s devices. Privacy is an important part of Apple’s mission as a company, and it can be seen in just about every feature or update it makes to this day. Social media platforms are notorious for collecting and selling data to advertisers, and Apple recently gave users the option to refuse certain types of tracking on iOS. It’s hurt the companies greatly, to the tune of $10 billion in lost expected revenue last year. Apple is now taking things a step further, ensuring that users of social media apps have the option to delete their account within the application on iOS.
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As of June 30, 2022, the policies regarding account creation and deletion for apps on the App Store are stricter in an effort to protect users and their data. Previously, applications could offer in-app account creation but direct users to a webpage in order to delete their account and any associated data. This can be cumbersome to users, and makes it more difficult for them to get rid of their data, if they so choose. Now, any application that offers in-app account creation must also offer in-app account deletion. The company says that the account deletion page must be clear and transparent, and recommends it be located in an account settings page. In addition to requiring account deletion, it also provides the standard of deletion in its app guidelines.
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The developer support notes related to the updated guidance also clarifies what should be deleted when a user requests to delete their account. “Deleting an account removes the account from the developer’s records, along with any data associated with the account that the developer isn’t legally required to maintain,” the page states. “Providing this capability gives people more control of the personal data they’ve shared.” This means that when users request to delete their account on iOS, they can expect for most or all of their data to be deleted. Though Apple says that applications on the App Store can offer alternatives to account deletion — like deactivating an account — these are insufficient on their own, and account deletion must be an option in the app.
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Social media companies are already beginning to update their applications to remain in compliance with the new App Store Review Guidelines, and it looks like all applications must be in compliance in order to release future updates. The guidance says that applications that do not offer in-app account deletion may face delays in the review of updates and app releases. On the last day before the new guidelines took effect, Instagram updated its application to support in-app account deletion. The option is found under Profile > Account > Account Deletion, and is an example of what updates to other apps might look like. Thanks to the updated App Store Review Guidelines, iOS users will have more control over their data and how it gets deleted.