Facebook Changes Hitting Monitoring Platforms

Shortly after last month's announcement of the new Facebook topic data service from DataSift, another kind of change showed up in my inbox: the impending disappearance of Facebook post data from social media monitoring tools. The search functions of the API that developers use to monitor public posts in Facebook are going away at the end of April, and the notices and workarounds are going out to customers now. I'm also hearing from software companies looking for alternative sources, though I have not heard of any such alternatives.

The vendor announcements say to expect fewer results with the switch to version 2.x of Facebook's Graph API (optional until April 30). The new version restricts access to information about users' friends, and it eliminates the Public Post search and News Feed search options from the Graph API. Monitoring of posts and comments on specified Facebook pages (including competitors' pages) is still supported, which creates a partial workaround.

As for the broader set of Facebook post data, DataSift's new PYLON API is the so-far exclusive source for most developers in the social media analysis business. The data includes private posts, but everything is anonymized and aggregated, and it doesn't include verbatim text. It's meant for broad analysis, not monitoring or engagement. Access is limited to the US and UK for now, so the answer for the European software developer who emailed me appears to be “no.”

Finding information about what a company doesn't do is tricky, especially with a segment of the industry that likes its trade secrets, but Facebook's announcement makes it pretty clear how they're thinking about user privacy in the data market:

We are not disclosing personally identifying information to anyone, including our partners and marketers. And, the results delivered to marketers are analyses and interpretations of the information, not actual topic data.
Facebook does offer more data through the Public Feed API and Keyword Insights API, but access is limited to high-profile mass media and a short list of developers who support them. For everyone else, it looks like Facebook doesn't want anyone monitoring their users' public posts but Facebook.

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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