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Facebook events service gets temporary exemption from Apple App Store fees - blog post

Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration

By Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Friday that businesses running paid online events on its iOS app would not need to pay a 30% fee to Apple for the remainder of 2020, temporarily defusing a standoff between the two tech giants.

The social media company said in a blog post that all businesses except gaming creators would be eligible for Apple's fee exemption and can process payments for the online events they run through Facebook Pay.

"Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax," Facebook company spokesman Joe Osborne said in a statement.

Facebook said it will not charge fees of its own for online events while businesses remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, through at least August 2021.

Apple said Friday that such online events have always been subject to its in-app payment rules, which charge commissions between 15% and 30% of the purchase price of paid online events.

Apple said it has given businesses affected by the pandemic more time to implement the system and that Facebook is getting the same exemption until year's end it has given ClassPass and Airbnb.

Gaming creators will not receive the exemption because the service was launched in early 2018 and it is not a physical business affected by the pandemic, Apple said.

"Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone,” Apple said in a statement.

Facebook challenged Apple's rules last month, attempting to tell users in an app update that the iPhone maker would take a cut of sales for a new online events feature, but later removed the message after Apple rejected the update.

The world's biggest social media company cast the move as a defense of small businesses and app developers, joining 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.

The social media giant said Apple's decision to lift the fees came with a catch excluding game creators from being able to use Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS.

"We unfortunately had to make this concession to get the temporary reprieve for other businesses," said Vivek Sharma, vice president of Facebook Gaming.

Apple is defending an antitrust lawsuit brought by "Fortnite" creator Epic Games over its in-app payment rules.

(Reporting by Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Andrea Ricci)