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Facebook is hated — and rich



Come a little closer to your screen. That’s it. I want to tell you a secret: Facebook is the best money machine on the internet, and it’s not a close call.*

Facebook may be an indefensible company that normalizes invasive tracking of people for dollars. It’s a place where extremists have ricocheted hate around the world. It may be melting our brains. And it’s being sued or prodded by so many governments that I have lost count. You might hate it. I might hate it? But I almost can’t believe how many of us rely on Facebook, and how stupidly successful it is.

The company said Wednesday that its sales — nearly all of which come from the ads it sells on Facebook, on Instagram and its other apps — reached nearly $86 billion in 2020 and are growing rapidly. Each day, 2.6 billion people use at least one of Facebook’s apps, and the user numbers are rising.

This is a company that is embroiled in a different scandal each week and that people say they dislike, yet its products are used by billions of people, and businesses spent like crazy on ads during a pandemic to reach them.

And the really wild thing is that Facebook’s products cost the company almost nothing to make. The Instagram selfie of you being vaccinated, the post from Mom about a fundraiser, and your Facebook parenting group — those are the company’s products, and most of us are making them for free. It means that Facebook is very profitable.

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I’ve been writing about corporate finances for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this combination of popularity, fast-growing sales, fat profits — and complete revulsion. “The gap between Facebook’s public reputation and its financial success has never been greater,” Kurt Wagner of Bloomberg wrote this past week.

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Historians, tell me if there’s a comparable company that was so reviled and yet so widely used and successful. (If you say the Gilded Age trusts like Standard Oil, I’d argue they make the point for Facebook’s critics who want the company broken up like the trusts of a century ago.)

Near the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, my colleagues wrote that strong companies like America’s technology superpowers would most likely become even stronger in this crisis. But as corporations’ 2020 financial returns roll in, it’s clear that we underestimated just how much the rich would get richer.

Apple, Netflix, Microsoft and other tech powers are making products that people and businesses are relying on to make it through a pandemic. And they are raking in money hand over fist.

I’m not sure how to feel about this. Yes, I’m grateful that companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and others are helping us work, go to school, shop, and stay entertained and connected at a time like this. But it’s also hard to ignore the disconnect between their mountains of money and the shaky condition of most major economies in 2020 and the battered finances of many families.

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This is not a novel reflection about the gap between the haves and the have-nots in this pandemic. I’m just left again unsure how to answer an essential question: Is what’s good for Big Tech good for all of us?

*(OK, fine. Google search is perhaps the internet’s very best money machine. Feel free to argue with me!)

Being informed(-ish) isn’t good enough

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Thursday was Data Privacy Day. This fake holiday has become an opportunity for Facebook to remind people to review their privacy settings. It’s also an opportunity for me to remind you that this is a charade.

These nudges from Facebook as well as Apple’s data privacy labels and a California privacy law all reveal a fundamental flaw in how our data is treated in the United States.

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The mission is to inform us of what data companies are collecting on us and give us (some) measure of choice. But I don’t want being informed to be the final goal.

The focus on making data collection transparent(-ish) is why we have long privacy policies that give a choice between agreeing to anything a company wants to do and not using the service.

It’s why technology executives tout our ability to delete voice recordings from inside our homes — but don’t stop the data from being collected in the first place. It’s why an app used to open and close a garage door also collects information to target users with internet ads. (Yes, really.)

Washington Post columnist Geoffrey Fowler has written that we should reframe data privacy around a simple question: Why is so much of our information being collected in the first place?

The answer is, because companies can. When every company from Facebook to a maker of garage door openers is racing to collect as much data as possible, we can’t really opt out — unless we want to cut ourselves off from 21st-century life.

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So if Facebook reminds you to look at its 40,000 privacy settings, go for it. But I suggest you also remember Fowler’s question: Why is so much information being collected at all?

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Introducing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0





Today, we are releasing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0. As part of this release, we are highlighting changes below that we believe are relevant to parts of our developer community. These changes include announcements, product updates, and notifications on deprecations that we believe are relevant to your application(s)’ integration with our platform.

For a complete list of all changes and their details, please visit our changelog.

General Updates

Consolidation of Audience Location Status Options for Location Targeting

As previously announced in May 2023, we have consolidated Audience Location Status to our current default option of “People living in or recently in this location” when choosing the type of audience to reach within their Location Targeting selections. This update reflects a consolidation of other previously available options and removal of our “People traveling in this location” option.

We are making this change as part of our ongoing efforts to deliver more value to businesses, simplify our ads system, and streamline our targeting options in order to increase performance efficiency and remove options that have low usage.

This update will apply to new or duplicated campaigns. Existing campaigns created prior to launch will not be entered in this new experience unless they are in draft mode or duplicated.

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Add “add_security_recommendation” and “code_expiration_minutes” to WA Message Templates API

Earlier this year, we released WhatsApp’s authentication solution which enabled creating and sending authentication templates with native buttons and preset authentication messages. With the release of Graph API v18, we’re making improvements to the retrieval of authentication templates, making the end-to-end authentication template process easier for BSPs and businesses.

With Graph API v18, BSPs and businesses can have better visibility into preset authentication message template content after creation. Specifically, payloads will return preset content configuration options, in addition to the text used by WhatsApp. This improvement can enable BSPs and businesses to build “edit” UIs for authentication templates that can be constructed on top of the API.

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Note that errors may occur when upgrading to Graph API v18 if BSPs or businesses are taking the entire response from the GET request and providing it back to the POST request to update templates. To resolve, the body/header/footer text fields should be dropped before passing back into the API.

Re-launching dev docs and changelogs for creating Call Ads

  • Facebook Reels Placement for Call Ads

    Meta is releasing the ability to deliver Call Ads through the Facebook Reels platform. Call ads allow users to call businesses in the moment of consideration when they view an ad, and help businesses drive more complex discussions with interested users. This is an opportunity for businesses to advertise with call ads based on peoples’ real-time behavior on Facebook. Under the Ad set Level within Ads Manager, businesses can choose to add “Facebook Reels” Under the Placements section.
  • Re-Launching Call Ads via API

    On September 12, 2023, we’re providing updated guidance on how to create Call Ads via the API. We are introducing documentation solely for Call Ads, so that 3P developers can more easily create Call Ads’ campaigns and know how to view insights about their ongoing call ad campaigns, including call-related metrics. In the future, we also plan to support Call Add-ons via our API platform. Developers should have access to the general permissions necessary to create general ads in order to create Call Ads via the API platform.

    Please refer to developer documentation for additional information.

Deprecations & Breaking Changes

Graph API changes for user granular permission feature

We are updating two graph API endpoints for WhatsAppBusinessAccount. These endpoints are as follows:

  • Retrieve message templates associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account
  • Retrieve phone numbers associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account

With v18, we are rolling out a new feature “user granular permission”. All existing users who are already added to WhatsAppBusinessAccount will be backfilled and will continue to have access (no impact).

The admin has the flexibility to change these permissions. If the admin changes the permission and removes access to view message templates or phone numbers for one of their users, that specific user will start getting an error message saying you do not have permission to view message templates or phone numbers on all versions v18 and older.

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Deprecate legacy metrics naming for IG Media and User Insights

Starting on September 12, Instagram will remove duplicative and legacy, insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API in order to share a single source of metrics to our developers.

This new upgrade reduces any confusion as well as increases the reliability and quality of our reporting.

After 90 days of this launch (i.e. December 11, 2023), we will remove all these duplicative and legacy insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API on all versions in order to be more consistent with the Instagram app.

We appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received from our developer community, and look forward to continuing to work together.

Please review the media insights and user insights developer documentation to learn more.

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Deprecate all Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 endpoints

Facebook Wi-Fi was designed to improve the experience of connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots at businesses. It allowed a merchant’s customers to get free Wi-Fi simply by checking in on Facebook. It also allowed merchants to control who could use their Wi-Fi and for how long, and integrated with ads to enable targeting to customers who had used the merchant’s Wi-Fi. This product was deprecated on June 12, 2023. As the partner notice period has ended, all endpoints used by Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 have been deprecated and removed.

API Version Deprecations:

As part of Facebook’s versioning schedule for Graph API and Marketing API, please note the upcoming deprecations:

Graph API

  • September 14, 2023: Graph API v11.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • February 8, 2024: Graph API v12.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • May 28, 2024: Graph API v13.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform

Marketing API

  • September 20, 2023: Marketing API v14.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • September 20, 2023: Marketing API v15.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • February 06, 2024: Marketing API v16.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform

To avoid disruption to your business, we recommend migrating all calls to the latest API version that launched today.

Facebook Platform SDK

As part of our 2-year deprecation schedule for Platform SDKs, please note the upcoming deprecations and sunsets:

  • October 2023: Facebook Platform SDK v11.0 or below will be sunset
  • February 2024: Facebook Platform SDK v12.0 or below will be sunset

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Allowing Users to Promote Stories as Ads (via Marketing API)





Before today (August 28, 2023), advertisers could not promote images and/or videos used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API. This process created unwanted friction for our partners and their customers.

After consistently hearing about this pain point from our developer community, we have removed this unwanted friction for advertisers and now allow users to seamlessly promote their image and/or video media used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API as of August 28, 2023.

We appreciate all the feedback received from our developer community, and hope to continue improving your experience.

Please review the developer documentation to learn more.

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Launching second release of Facebook Reels API: An enterprise solution for desktop and web publishers





We’re excited to announce that the second release of FB Reels API is now publicly available for third-party developers. FB Reels API enables users of third-party platforms to share Reels directly to public Facebook Pages and the New Pages Experience.

FB Reels API has grown significantly since the first release in September 2022. The new version of the APIs now support custom thumbnails, automatic music tagging, tagging collaborators, longer format of reels and better error handling.

FB Reels API will also support scheduling and draft capability to allow creators to take advantage of tools provided either by Meta or by our partners. Based on the feedback we received from our partners, we’ll now provide additional audio insights via the Audio Recommendations API and reels performance metrics via the Insights API.

Our goal in the next couple of releases is to continue to make it easier for creators to develop quality content by adding features like early copyright detection and A/B testing. We’re also excited to start working on enhanced creation features like Video clipping- so stay tuned to hear more about those features in the future.


If you are a developer interested in integrating with the Facebook Reels API, please refer to the Developer Documents for more info.

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Not sure if this product is for you? Check out our entire suite of sharing offerings.

Tune in to Product @scale event to learn more about FB Video APIs and hear from some of our customers.

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