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Facebook and Microsoft Partnering on Remote Development

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We’re making Visual Studio Code the default development environment at Facebook and teaming with Microsoft to help enhance their remote development extensions in an effort to enable engineers to do remote development at scale.

History

Facebook engineers have written millions of lines of code. There is no mandated development environment. Some developers use vim. Some use Emacs. And even more engineers use our internal, unified development environment called Nuclide.

Nuclide began as a set of open-source packages built on top of the Atom editor. We provided our engineers a set of functionality supporting its development workflow and the numerous programming languages used at the company. In 2018, we retired the open source version of Nuclide, but continued to use Nuclide internally.

In late 2018, we announced to our engineers that we would be moving Nuclide to Visual Studio Code. Plenty of development work has been done to migrate the current Nuclide functionality, along with some new features, as internal-facing extensions for Visual Studio Code. Visual Studio Code is now used extensively across the company in beta.

Why Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Code is a very popular development tool, with great investment and support from Microsoft and the open source community. It runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux, and has a robust and well-defined extension API that enables us to continue building the important capabilities required for the large-scale development that is done at the company. Visual Studio Code is a platform we can safely bet our development platform future.

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Enhancing the Remote Development Experience

While engineers at Facebook have Visual Studio Code installed locally on laptops, most development is done directly on individually-reserved development servers that live within our data centers. Being able to access code on these servers in a seamless, performant way is critical for productivity.

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As Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code team stated when they first released the remote extensions, remote development is an emerging trend. While our use cases may be more advanced than most development teams given our scale, any developer can gain the benefits of remote development:

  • Work with larger, faster, or more specialized hardware than what’s available on your local machine
  • Create tailored, dedicated environments for each project’s specific dependencies, without worrying about errors due to mixed or conflicting configurations
  • Support the flexibility of being able to quickly switch between multiple running development environments without impacting local resources or tool performance

These benefits should be available to any developer, and we at Facebook believe that we can apply our unique expertise in this problem space to help. That’s why today we are excited to share not just our usage of their remote development extensions, but our involvement in helping Microsoft further improve remote development extensions, with a lens on enabling engineers to do remote development at scale with Visual Studio Code.

To help Microsoft enhance its product offering, we have provided input through our experience and expertise supporting remote development for Nuclide. And Microsoft has now created such a robust remoting experience, it has allowed us to move off our own custom solution.

We’re also excited that the remote development capabilities added by Microsoft are available as extensions for anyone using Visual Studio Code.

Moving Forward

Given the scale of development at Facebook, supporting the efficiency and productivity of our engineers is key. Constant work is being done to enable Visual Studio Code to be the IDE of choice inside the company, whether by building extensions or enhancing our current technologies to better support it.

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For example, when it comes to code, Facebook is a polyglot. Code is written in Python, C++, Java and in some of our own created languages like Flow, Hack and Reason. Extensions exist to support these languages, which include syntax highlighting, formatters, linters, etc. Flow, for example, has had a Facebook-developed public Visual Studio Code extension since 2015. With Facebook’s internal move to Visual Studio Code, Flow has been in active development, through areas like Language Service Protocol (LSP) improvements, to better ensure the language works great with Visual Studio Code.

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Another example is around source control. Facebook uses Mercurial internally as its source control infrastructure. Development work continues on an extension to allow for source control manipulation directly within Visual Studio Code, enabling all of the workflows Facebook developers are comfortable with in order to get their code reviewed and landed.

Visual Studio Code is now an established part of Facebook’s development future. In teaming with Microsoft, we’re looking forward to being part of the community that helps Visual Studio Code continue to be a world class development tool.

Facebook Developers

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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