Facebook is Securing Your Friends Data

Up until very recently Facebook let you send your offer your friend’s location, interests, check-ins, and status updates to third party app developers in order to allow them to further personalize their offerings. The led to incredibly specific and personalized products that certainly added to user’s enjoyment of Facebook and other services it was a serious privacy concern and one Facebook is now doing something about. The company has announced that it will discontinue the use of the Friends Data API this year. The current services has already been migrated to the new Graph API v2.0 removing the Friends Data API altogether, and on April 30th there will be a few more changes.

In San Francisco today Facebook told journalists that all apps created since April of 2014 are already using the new API and there will be no disruption using them. All new developers will be required to comply with the new updated API or their connection to Facebook will be terminated by the end of the month.

This will be seen by many Facebook users as a great move giving them control of their personal data and protecting them from predatory app developers. It is not reasonable to think that just because you are friends with someone that you would trust them to make decisions for you, and up till now that is what has been going on in Facebook. Now it would seem only the user controls who gets their data.

Over the last year that this migration has been going on Facebook also took a close look at the top 5000 apps that used their API for integration. It was the purpose of this extensive review to reduce any impact there would be to both Facebook users and the app developers serving them. Mark Zuckerberg has been telling anyone that will listen that Facebook’s new slogan is “People First” and this new API move certainly plays that vision out.

Facebook’s research didn’t stop at apps. The company did extensive research with users in-person asking questions about how they felt about privacy and the apps they used. The research ultimately told them that in order to ensure the long term health and growth of Facebook the users must have confidence in the apps they are using in regards to person privacy and security. This was clearly a top issue and must be addressed and resolved.

All things are not well however. Some developers will be required to make extensive changes to how they operate and how their apps work. Some will simply turn them off altogether because it isn’t cost effective to make fundamental changes to their apps and service. An example of one app that is being shut down is Job Fusion. This app requires information on where users work in order to operate and the API simply won’t allow for that. The app’s value is not only diminished, it is gone completely.

All apps will now also be required to use a new login system which gives users total control over what data they send to developers. This data will be broken down in a much more granular way to further put privacy in the hands of the user.