Without warning, Facebook subtly (albeit, discreetly) mentioned that they had made restrictions to their Application Program Interface (APIs). They dropped the bomb on April 4th, on their developer blog. For those who aren’t familiar with developer jargon, this change means that it will be a whole lot harder for your digital agency to use third-party apps, tools, and programs to manage your clients’ Facebook and Instagram social profiles in the future.
What’s an API you ask? It’s like an information bridge between a platform (i.e. Facebook) and a third-party tool, such as HeyOrca. An API enables a tool to view the user’s social profile information, and to some extent to use that app and perform useful functions.
APIs allow you to tag a business or another profile on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example.
Granted, the user must give the app permission to access their social profile information. Once permission is granted, the tool can crawl the user’s profile and retrieve necessary information from it.
Facebook’s API restriction means that your marketing agency will have a tough time using additional tools to run your clients’ Facebook and Instagram profiles.
Annoying? Certainly. Apocalyptic? Not really–keep reading!
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Why Did This Happen?
Due to a high number of spammy third-party tools that took advantage of APIs, and the recent Facebook information privacy scandal (a la Cambridge Analytica), Facebook has taken some swift action and cut off a lot of third party access to its APIs.
All third parties have been affected–the shady ones, as well as the legitimate ones that have achieved special Partner Status.
The Full List of API Suspensions
As mentioned above, Facebook has immediately made changes due to privacy issues. The following forms of third-party access that are relevant to digital marketing have been cut:
- Facebook Groups API (i.e. managing Facebook Groups, viewing feed, posts, albums, etc. Group users are required to have explicit administrative authorization to manage groups.)
- Facebook Private Messenger API (i.e. using a tool to send private messages (PMs) on behalf of your client.)
- Facebook Pages API (i.e. cannot view non-friends in plug-ins, nor view Page conversations.)
- Facebook Events API (i.e. cannot view RSVP lists, feed, posts, and comments.)
- Instagram Search API (i.e. cannot search for pages, groups, events, users, etc.)
- Instagram App Insights API (i.e. cannot read aggregated demographic data
Facebook has stated that they will continue to make improvements in order to keep their users private and personal information safe.
Facebook will also be performing a more rigorous developer screening process before granting developers access to APIs in the future.
What the API Change Means for your Marketing Agency
Although frustrating, the API restrictions are not all doom and gloom.
As of now, the API change means that you will not be able to access certain features on your clients’ social media accounts through third-party tools. Instead, you might have to run your day to day on a more manual level if you must tag businesses in posts, or PM on behalf of your clients.
The good news is that you can still use third party tools to manage social media accounts.
Despite these definite inconveniences, it’s going to be okay.
In the future, Facebook will be reviewing each third-party app that requests to regain access of the API.
In addition to that, HeyOrca will be working hard on your behalf to improve your Facebook and Instagram experience through our social media approval software.
We will not stop until your agency’s social media approval and management services are a breeze!
In the meantime, you will experience different API restrictions. These are based on the third-party apps and tools that your agency is using to manage your clients Facebook and Instagram profiles.
For example, if you are using a tool that allows you to PM on behalf of your client’s Facebook profile, then you will no longer be able to use that tool to do so. Instead, you will have to authorize access to your client’s Facebook account to send PMs on their behalf.
In addition, you will no longer be able to tag a business or personal profile in an Instagram post through a third-party tool. You will only be able to do so through your client’s Instagram account.
Sound annoying? It sure is.
Luckily, HeyOrca has developed a workaround to solve this tagging issue mentioned above.
Your HeyOrca Experience and our API Changes Solution
As a result of the Facebook API changes, you are no longer able to tag a business, group, or profile page while using HeyOrca.
Instead, you must tag pages, businesses, and people using one of two workarounds:
- Type @pagename
(e.g., @heyorca – for the tag to work, the @pagename has to be the exact vanity name of a Facebook Business Page)
- Type @ followed by the URL of the Facebook Page
Despite these Facebook policy change-related inconveniences, all of HeyOrca’s services and applications will remain fully functional and exceptional.
We sorely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused your agency, and we will continue to work hard to improve your HeyOrca experience.
We do not expect that these changes will have any further impact on HeyOrca’s platform.