The company formerly known as Facebook just announced its plans to sneak around Apple’s infamous platform fees, the latest beat in an ongoing war between major software companies and the creator of iOS. In a Facebook post Wednesday, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network would give eligible creators on its platform new custom links that allow them to accept payments directly, circumventing Apple’s controversial 30% cut.
“As we build for the metaverse, we’re focused on unlocking opportunities for creators to make money from their work,” Zuckerberg said. “The 30% fees that Apple takes on transactions make it harder to do that, so we’re updating our Subscriptions product so now creators can earn more.”
Creators who run Facebook pages eligible for subscriptions can share the new promo links through text or email, pointing their fans to a payments portal run through its own payment system, Facebook Pay. In the creator post, Facebook also announced a new bonus program that gives creators between $5 and $20 for each new subscriber they sign up until the end of the year, part of the $1 billion creator program the company previously announced.
Facebook’s Patreon-like subscriptions product gives people with popular Facebook pages access to special monetization tools for monthly recurring payments. To sign up, the current eligibility rules require a page owner to have 10,000 followers or more than 250 return viewers plus either 50,000 post engagements or 180,000 minutes watched.
Facebook has stated that it won’t be collecting any fees of its own from creator payments through 2023, though given its aggressive move into the space the company surely has plans to cash in on the booming creator economy after giving people a few introductory years rent free. The company even previously planned to extract its own 30% cut of subscriber earnings, though backed away from those plans — for now, at least.
Apple has historically extracted a standard 30% fee from all paid apps and in-app payments made through iOS — a toll that generates massive revenue for the company. Late last year Apple threw smaller app makers a bone, lowering the cut to 15% for developers who make under $1 million annually.
Apple’s app store fees are a major sore spot for a number of huge software developers. Last year, Fortnite maker Epic Games took the company to court over in-app fees in a flashy campaign that positioned Epic as the little guy going to bat for developers everywhere. Meta, which is worth $923 billion at the time of writing, is positioning itself similarly in the new fight over creator payments that it just picked with Apple.
In September, a judge in California’s Epic Games v. Apple case ruled that Apple could no longer block developers from pointing users toward external payment options that circumvent Apple’s substantial fees. That decision opened the door for Facebook’s new workaround. Apple appealed the ruling and requested a stay on the judge’s injunction last month.
The new workaround for creator payments isn’t Facebook’s first major clash with Apple, nor is it the first in which Facebook maneuvered to align itself with the everyman. The company was so threatened by new anti-tracking features in iOS 14 designed to bolster user privacy that it took out full-page print ads protesting the changes in every major national newspaper — ostensibly on behalf of the small businesses that would be affected and not its own.