Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, data, Mark Zuckerberg.
You can't read the news without seeing those words pop up somewhere. And you're sure it affects your business somehow. How could it not? Billions of users spend time on Facebook every day, which is why the platform has been invaluable for targeting existing and prospective customers.
Media backlash has seen Facebook come under increased public scrutiny to improve and tighten their data processes and, as a result, roll-out multiple changes to their platforms and API’s in a concerted effort to maintain trust with users and businesses alike.
So, what are the most notable changes and how do they affect you and your business?
Removing Partner Categories: Perhaps the most drastic action taken by Facebook is their decision to axe Partner Categories, a targeting solution that enables third party data providers to offer their targeting segments directly on Facebook. These categories allowed advertisers to target consumers based on information compiled by Facebook’s partners, such as offline demographic and behavioural information like homeownership or purchase history. Facebook have stated that creation edits will be disabled May 11 2018, with delivery of ads utilising Partner Category targeting ending October 1 2018.
Custom Audiences: Facebook’s Custom Audience tool makes it possible for advertisers to target users on its platform by uploading lists of emails, phone numbers and other consumer data and cross-referencing it against user profiles. In May 2018 Facebook will launch the Custom Audiences Permissions Tool that ensures advertisers represent and warrant that proper consent has been obtained for the information they upload in Business Manager to create Custom Audiences and enables them to grant appropriate permissions to service providers.
Facebook Login: Facebook will be reducing the data that an app can request to include only name, profile photo and email address. Going forward, Facebook will approve all apps before they can request access to information such as check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events, and groups.
Apps will no longer be able to gain access to more personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists’, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, and games activity – basically everything you wouldn’t really want them to know anyway, and were perhaps unaware you were sharing in the first place!
Events API: Apps using the API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on an event wall. And, moving forward, developers must first be approved by Facebook and agree to strict requirements to use the Events API.
App controls: Since April 9th you may have noticed a link at the top of your Facebook News Feed so you can see what apps you currently use — and the information you have shared with those apps. As a result, consumers will be able to remove apps that they no longer want.
Some apps, such as Bumble, have already foregone Facebook authentication for users to access their service in an effort to mitigate the recent damage caused by Facebook. It’s not anticipated that this will become a growing trend, but don’t be surprised if you see more apps following suit over the coming months.
Facebook can’t be surprised at the increasing demands for change following the Cambridge Anayltica scandal. Having achieved so much at the young age of 33, being asked to testify on Capitol Hill was probably not an achievement that Mark – nor Facebook - would like to repeat, and Facebook have started to tighten their grip on data usage, albeit slightly.
Fortunately for Facebook the general public don’t actually care that much. Interestingly, with all the negative press associated with Facebook over the last few months, there hasn't really been any meaningful shift in Facebook users' behaviour. Carolyn Everson, Facebook VP of Global Marketing Solutions, has confirmed that over the past few weeks, Facebook users, for the most part, haven't changed their privacy settings despite the uproar against Facebook.
The reality is most of us have grown addicted to Facebook for both our personal and professional needs. Even though Facebook is only 14 years old, it is hard to remember a time before it, and, as such, it’s difficult to imagine life without it. Besides, how long will our dwindling attention spans really remember what it was that got us all so upset in the first place?