Meta has announced the launch of Facebook Graph API v14.0 and Marketing API v14.0, which are the back-end systems that power connection to Meta’s various tools and platforms, and facilitate third-party app access.
Meta’s API updates can be sneaky significant, with big shifts sometimes hidden in amongst the technical jargon, so it’s worth staying up to date with the latest to ensure you don’t miss anything.
So what’s new in this release – and what does it mean for regular users?
Well, of course, it’s mostly aligned with developers, but there will be some expanded impacts, in different ways.
First off, Meta’s updated the questions that it requires developers to answer as part of its Data Protection Assessment, which it first launched last July.
The questions, like the one above, basically ask developers if their applications will use Meta’s data in any negative ways, like using personal info for discriminatory purpose, or sharing Facebook user data with third-parties.
The measure is an extra layer to better protect Meta from potential misuse, with Meta able to refer back to the developers’ answers as a means to revoke any apps’ access based on these parameters.
Though I do find some of the question chains pretty funny:
‘Oh yeah, my app disadvantages disabled people by taking in their Facebook profile info and assessing whether they use a screen reader, and it’s been doing it for years.’
It’s a fairly flimsy layer of assurance, given that every developer will just tick the right boxes and move on, but as noted, the real impetus is to give Meta a fallback enforcement position – i.e. you agreed to this contract which stipulates that your app won’t be used for this purpose.
The more in-depth questions will provide more capacity on this front.
Meta’s also introducing a new ‘Access Verification’ process to identify tech providers using its platform.
“This process will be required for both new and existing businesses with apps that require access to client business assets on Meta.”
That will help Meta better understand how each app is using its data, and what it enables on the user end, with third-party management apps now required to disclose this specifically.
In extension of this, Meta’s also adding new tools into Business Manager that will give businesses more visibility into the app integrations they use for managing business assets, through which they’ll also soon be able to manage their various access points and tools to stay on top of these functionalities.
Meta’s also adding ‘Transactional’, ‘Marketing’ and ‘One-time passwords’ as message template options via the WhatsApp Business Management API and WhatsApp Manager UI, while it’s also adding support for the setup and editing of Post Conversion Optimization processes.
Finally, it’s also adding new permissible use cases for accessing both user Like and post data via the Graph API.
“Starting today, permissible use cases will include parental access controls and monitoring apps that analyze user likes and user post content. These apps are used by parents and guardians to detect potential risk to the safety or wellbeing of people under 18 years of age. The apps are limited to youth social media analysis as presented in the app’s user interface.”
This is a tricky area for Meta, as this is exactly how it got into trouble with the Cambridge Analytica case, with academics given access to Facebook user data, in depth, which enabled the CA team to develop a psychographic system for alternate purpose.
How effective that actually was is still unclear, but since then, Meta has basically locked down access to this type of information - so the fact that it’s now being made available in some circumstances is significant.
On the other side of the coin, Meta’s also taking some options away, including Connections Targeting for ads, which enables advertisers to segment their audience based on how people are connected to your business.
For example, using Connections Targeting, you can select audience segments based on whether they’re connected to your Page, your app and/or an event. Connections also expands to users that are friends with anybody who’s connected to your business.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to simplify our targeting options, we’re removing Connections Targeting from all Meta advertising platforms on June 15, 2022. In advance of this date, we recommend developers convert their existing audiences that leverage Connections Targeting to the equivalent Engagement Custom Audience or Lookalike Audience. These alternatives also allow developers to target ads to users who are connected to their page, app and/or event.”
So Meta’s essentially taking away the option to reach friends of people who’ve engaged with your Page or event, but you’ll still be able to reach relevant, interested audiences via its Lookalike Audience options.
Meta’s also removing the Mobile App Custom Audience ‘User by Segment’ feature from Facebook Analytics.
The changes this time around are relatively minor, and Meta hasn’t snuck any sneaky big updates in, which, again, has happened from time to time (especially leading into a long weekend). But there are some relevant points of note, which will apply beyond the developer community.
For most, that won’t change your Facebook or Instagram ads strategy, but there will be some smaller tweaks within the Facebook marketing experience.
You can read more about Meta’s latest API changes here.