Facebook is shutting down its Friends Data API: Here’s what it could mean for digital marketers and developers

Posted: May 3, 2015

 

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Starting April 30th 2015, Facebook is migrating all apps to v2.0 of the Graph API. This new set of API rules aims to augment user privacy and protection,limiting information that marketers once had, as a result.

 

Previously, when logging into an app or website that uses Facebook Connect, users were asked for permission to various pieces of information linked to their Facebook account. One of these requests
(often unnoticed), was access to the information of your friends. With the enforcement of version 2 of Facebook’s Graph API, apps are no longer able to collect this data or even ask for it at all – with the aim to improve users’ trust.
Apparently a new motto is making the rounds amid Facebook’s inner circle; ‘People first’. Many users will see this change as a positive development with more control over their own information, especially as they had no power over data accumulated by a friend’s acceptance within a Facebook app in the first place.
A year ago the social networking site announced the news that in 2015 apps would no longer be able to access data from users’ friend lists. From April 30th all Facebook apps will automatically be upgraded by the social network, or forced to use v2 of the Graph API, following the deprecation of v1.0.

 

For apps that haven’t specifically used the v2 endpoint during development this might cause issues within the app if it’s not able to get information it was expecting before. This also makes it more difficult to share Facebook data between other applications. While this can be frustrating for developers, it’s a big plus for the end-user.

 

Despite the new restrictions, it is still possible to connect with friends through apps. For example, you can still get information of friends who have already connected to the application you are connecting to. The new Facebook Login will also allow the user to connect to the application, but reject optional permissions being requested.

 

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These changes now force marketers and developers to better define requirements and functionality of their applications with the new Facebook Login restrictions in mind.

The new rules have also dramatically impacted businesses across the globe. Companies such as Job Fusion, a business that helps you find quality jobs through your Facebook friends, have subsequently disabled a key feature of their offering. From this notice on their website, it has had dramatic effect on their business and they are not an isolated case. According to GlobalDatingInsights.com, mobile dating apps could suffer the most.

Fortunately, this shouldn’t be breaking news to most; Facebook announced the migration at last year’s F8 and have since offered tools to test applications with the new API. On top of that, they have specifically reviewed their top 5000 apps and gave owners and developers extensive feedback on how to operate within the new restrictions.

 

Authors: Lindy Eksteen, Community Manager, iProspect SA and Werner Barnard, Technical Director, iProspect SA.