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Facebook’s muscle flexing reflects the new reality



The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken on Dec 2, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Within days of a rapprochement between the Australian government and social media giant Facebook over payment for news content, the dominoes have started to fall.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand government has hinted it may follow Australia’s lead.

Kris Faafoi, New Zealand’s minister for broadcasting and media, said on March 4 that he was considering adopting rules similar to those reached in Australia on Feb 25, which require tech giants such as Facebook and Google to pay for using local news.

The world’s population is roughly 7 billion, of which 3 billion are Facebook users. This gives Facebook massive reach and power.

It has the power to switch off the accounts of powerful figures, as was the case with former US president Donald Trump. And it can switch off the news, as it did in Australia on Feb 18 over a long running argument about paying Australian news providers for their news.

Facebook has said news does not drive its revenue base. If that is the case, then why put up such a big fight with the Australian government and Australian media owners over paying for content?

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The short answer is principle. Facebook lives in a world of its own making and will not be told what to do by anyone.

For the best part of three years, the Australian government has been pushing for a code in which social media companies like Google and Facebook pay local media for their content.

Obviously, with talks not going its way, Facebook flexed its Big Tech muscles and banned Australian news organizations. In doing so, it also saw several nonmedia players, such as charities and government sites, blocked as well-something that Facebook said was unintentional.

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The fact that Facebook could simply switch off, in this case, Australian news on its platform was widely criticized as being undemocratic and even authoritarian. But Facebook made its point.

A week later, the news was switched back when a last-minute compromise had been reached following phone calls between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

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This is the new reality that has been facing traditional media since the birth of the internet.

For decades, traditional media owners have been watching their ad revenues and readership numbers steadily decline as social media have taken over.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison likes to say social media may be changing the world but do not run it. But in doing so, he misses the point. It has power-real power.

In Australia alone, 17 million people are said to be Facebook users. That’s real power for anyone, considering the population is just over 25 million.

The argument in Australia had more to do with old media trying to cling to their declining power base, rather than politics.

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The problem with old media is that they have seen themselves as the arbiter of truth and justice, a Fourth Estate between the political class, church and the people. But today there is a “fifth estate”, social media, where anyone with a mobile phone or laptop can post their own ideas, viewpoints or opinions. The old, traditional newsroom is now being driven by social media.

Traditional media may have held the moral high ground once, but not anymore. Its prestige is fading along with the typewriter.

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Even so, media companies that still print newspapers are desperate to seek revenue streams from wherever they can get them.

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code will now become one such stream, where the Googles and Facebooks of the world will have to pay Australian news outlets for using their content.

Google had already entered into agreements with several Australian news organizations when Facebook said no and blocked all Australian news sites.

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The likes of Facebook do not create news. They just facilitate the link. The irony here is that many of Australia’s news sites are pay sites anyway.

Australia’s media sector is basically controlled by three major players-News Corp Australia, Nine Entertainment (owners of the former Fairfax newspaper group) and Seven West Media. They all have pay sites and will reap rewards from social media players.

The losers will be the small, independent media outfits such as newspapers in the suburbs and in regional Australia.

The author is a China Daily correspondent based in Sydney.

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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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