By Sarah E. Needleman and Jeff Horwitz
Facebook Inc. said it would assist the company behind popular videogame "Fortnite" in its high-profile legal battle with Apple Inc., as the social-media giant ramps up its own counterattack against what it says are the iPhone maker's self-serving measures cloaked in the interest of privacy.
Facebook has been feuding with Apple for months on issues ranging from prices for paid apps to privacy rule changes.
As part of a pledge to assist challenges to what it called Apple's anticompetitive behavior, Facebook plans to provide supporting materials and documents to "Fortnite" parent Epic Games Inc., which sued Apple earlier this year and claimed the tech giant's App Store operates like a monopoly. Facebook said it isn't joining the lawsuit but helping with discovery as the case heads to trial next year.
A spokeswoman for Epic declined to comment.
In a blog post Wednesday Facebook also sharpened its criticism of Apple's plan to enable users to restrict certain apps from collecting personal data, saying those policies could imperil small businesses while potentially benefiting its own bottom line.
"This is not really about privacy for them," said Dan Levy, Facebook's head of ad products. "This is about an attack on personalized ads and the consequences it's going to have on small-business owners."
An Apple spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple has said starting early next year its iOS 14 operating system will give iPhone and iPad users the option to no longer share personal information that many developers rely on to tailor ads. When users open an app, they will see a message asking for their permission to track what other apps and websites they visit, their location and other behaviors.
Apple's plan has drawn criticism from a range of businesses and trade groups including the publisher of DMG Media, operator of the Daily Mail and MailOnline, and the Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media, a coalition of advertisers and ad-tech companies, which formed in July in an attempt to forestall Apple's change. A group of trade associations filed a complaint with France's competition authority in October, saying that Apple's plan was anticompetitive.
Facebook itself is facing challenges to its business practices. The Federal Trade Commission and 46 states sued the company earlier this month, accusing it of buying upstart rivals to choke off competition. The FTC's case aims to force Facebook to unwind acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, two of its landmark deals. Facebook countered that the FTC had previously approved those acquisitions and said that people and small-businesses choose to use its free services and advertising because of the value that it provides them.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires