Connect with us

FACEBOOK

Google and Facebook are brilliant and dangerous and entirely out of control | The Spinoff

Published

on

Google and Facebook have transformed the world, made our lives better and brought enormous challenges. Yet despite their impact on everything from business to the mental health of teenagers, they are less regulated than your local takeaways, writes Duncan Greive.

Illustrations by Toby Morris and Archi Banal

But society soon realised its potential, and created infrastructure to support it. Roads to drive on, petrol stations to refuel at. Mechanics to fix them when they broke down. And, before long, expanded emergency departments to deal with injuries. Cemeteries became dotted with those who died driving, or hit by drivers. Some of this cost was borne by individuals, much of it by the state.

Over time we introduced tools to reduce the downside – speed limits, drink driving laws, better roads, emissions parameters, airbags, crumple zones, seatbelts – while still retaining the social and economic benefits of all that mobility. Debates sprang up about how to manage the tension between private road users and public transport systems, which the car mostly won. 

Some imagine a world in which the car’s victory was less comprehensive. They look back wistfully on the tram systems which got people around Tāmaki Makaurau in the 40s, and advocate for cycleways and light rail now. We wrestle still today with the long-term consequences of decisions or delays of decades ago – climate change caused by excessive reliance on fossil fuels, gridlock on our roads and cities which sprawl out rather than building up. Lives cut short. We live with the consequences of inaction for a long time. Sometimes forever.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

We’re at a fateful intersection again

This is not a story about cars. Instead it’s an attempt to make a good faith reckoning with new technologies just as important as the private vehicle: social media and search engines. They have transformed communication and the distribution of information, and are at least as impactful to the way we live now as the car was to the 20th century. 

Both social media and search engines have provided extraordinary benefits to society, of which we’re well-appraised. We can connect and kōrero with friends and whānau all over the country and the world, without friction and essentially cost-free. We can bring up information with a few taps or keystrokes that would previously have required a trip to the local library, if it were available at all. Small businesses can set up shop and have a highly efficient advertising product to reach customers – either those actively looking for their goods or services (through search) or which are highly relevant (through social media). And on and on and on.

It’s unnecessary to point out that this has changed our lives, totally and irrevocably. One small window in: roughly half of those reading this likely came on a journey commenced on Facebook or Google. Yet these technologies are, by historic standards, very young: while neither quite has an outright monopoly in their respective areas, each is so dominant as to function as a verb.

Google was founded in 1998 in California, Facebook in 2004 in Massachusetts (though it moved to within a few miles of Google that same year). In some respects, this is the argument for treating them gently. To return to my analogy, if we compare the tech giants’ development timeline to that of the car, we’re in about WWI, when the Model T Ford was the height of motoring sophistication.

Image: Archi Banal

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Social media and search engines are indeed young – founded within most of our lifetimes, and many of us remember life before they arrived. But they differ from the car in two crucial respects. One is that the infrastructure they rely on is already highly evolved and widely distributed. Hardware companies like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung put supercomputers in our bags and pockets. Our government presciently funded the rollout of a large broadband network, ensuring fast, relatively affordable broadband which is accessible to most (though by no means all). And companies like Spark and Vodafone built out mobile internet to ensure there were few places on the whenua where we couldn’t access their services.

Which is to say that we as a society funded an enormous infrastructure build which ensured that these services are accessible to a very large majority of us (those on the wrong side of the digital divide need help across, though that’s another story). And because they’re useful and free – a crucial and challenging element of their success to which I’ll return – they’re wildly popular, with a large majority of New Zealanders using them each day. All this means that while those companies are very young, they’re also ubiquitous – essentially they are the internet, to many of us.

This explains why, though still in their teens or early 20s, Facebook and Google’s combined market capitalisation – what it would cost to buy them – is over NZ$4 trillion. In recent years their combined annual revenues have blasted past New Zealand’s GDP. To put it another way, they’re respectively the fourth (Alphabet, Google’s parent company) and sixth (Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp) most valuable businesses in the entire world. Which is to say that while they are young in years, they’re also powerful in ways few businesses ever have been. 

Made with Flourish

One more thing to know about Google and Facebook: for all their phenomenal, unprecedented scale and power, they are also almost entirely untaxed and unregulated in this country. In fact, we know very little about them. They don’t declare how much money they really make locally, and despite being among the most profitable companies in the world, they make almost no contribution to our tax base here, siphoning a massive and fast-growing fire-hose of money back to Northern California but leaving little here to pay for the public services we require to function as a society.

This brings me to the point of this essay. To try and assess the impact of these businesses on us as a country, and ask whether, as a community, this current arrangement makes sense. I will take it as a given that we enjoy tremendous benefits from freely accessible search and social media. As noted above, these are so widespread as to hardly need explaining.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Instead I’m going to try to grapple with what economists call the negative externalities, or even just odd elements that seem screaming for oversight. The social and search equivalent of the smog, car crashes and communities sprawled out and carved into pieces that came with the car. This will necessarily be just a tiny sliver of such impacts – their scale brings with it enormous complexity, which they use as a shield to resist any attempts at reform. 

All this will ultimately lead to asking if it makes sense for us to continue to allow two of the biggest and most profitable companies the world has ever known to operate here with less regulation and taxation than the average takeaways or taxi.

Vaccinations and information disorder

I write this from a locked down Tāmaki Makaurau, so naturally, this is front of mind. After an astonishing surge in vaccinations as we grappled with the early stages of the delta outbreak, we now watch a dispiriting plunge in the number of first vaccinations, despite our eligible population being well short of the 90% figure often touted as a key milestone toward greater freedoms. Those not receiving the vaccine are a complex group, containing a tiny number of people with legitimate health reasons to avoid it, and a far larger group who could safely take it but don’t want to.

See also  How Facebook Undermines Privacy Protections for Its 2 Billion WhatsApp Users | San Jose Inside

Made with Flourish

They range from a persuadable group of the vaccine hesitant, to a very loud and determined group of “anti-vaxxers”, strongly opposed and committed to recruiting and retaining members. Despite the science being settled, much of this group is suffering from what is known as “information disorder”, an umbrella term for disinformation, misinformation and malinformation. We saw a particularly visceral example of this just last week, when The Spinoff reported that anti-vaxxers swarmed the prime minister’s stream of a 1pm press briefing, showering our most influential public figure’s feed with falsehoods regarding the vaccine, just as she was on stage exhorting people to get vaccinated. 

While Facebook is making a concerted effort to get its arms around anti-vax content, its efforts have been overwhelmed. Perhaps this is because the vast majority of its human moderators are focused on the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Facebook employees and contractors spent more than 3.2 million hours searching out and labeling or, in some cases, taking down information the company concluded was false or misleading… Only 13% of those hours were spent working on content from outside the US”. When 90% of Facebook’s users are outside American borders, that’s a major problem. Particularly given that large amounts of anti-vax content is in languages other than English.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

I approached Facebook to ask where its moderators for New Zealand were located in 2020, and the company failed to answer. I asked again this week, along with questions about their proficiency in te reo Māori and Pasifika languages. A Facebook company spokesperson replied “we are committed to our diverse and vibrant community in New Zealand… Our content moderation approach is global, operates 24/7 across multiple time zones, and in many different languages.” Which neatly avoided answering either question. This is sadly fairly typical of its record on transparency, but it seems safe to assume that its moderation presence within Aotearoa and in tune with our values, language and culture is minimal.


Independent journalism takes time, money and hard work to produce. We rely on donations to fund our work. If you can help, donate to The Spinoff Members


While it’s near-impossible to know to what extent Facebook and its other platforms are responsible for the spread of anti-vax content in New Zealand, the platform is undeniably a hotbed of it still, as a chilling recent Charlie Mitchell feature for Stuff showed. It leaves our government in a bizarre position: having to devote an enormously costly public health and communications apparatus to persuade people to take vaccines, a basic measure to protect themselves and their community. To do this they have to use and pay many millions of public dollars to platforms that still rife with the anti-vaccine information disorder they’re trying to counteract. And do all this while individuals and the state are bleeding billions of dollars in a lengthy lockdown which might have ended by now had Facebook prevented the spread of anti-vax content on its platforms.

The cost, both fiscal and social, is carried by all of us. There are few consequences for Facebook for allowing this spread, and the profit from advertising wrapped around all this engagement goes offshore, largely tax-free.

Instagram and teens

This essay was in part inspired by a devastating series of reports, The Facebook Files, recently published by the Wall Street Journal. They were based on a massive trove of leaked information from within Facebook, some of it centred around research it has itself carried out on the impact of Instagram, which Facebook owns, on young people. 

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Tech reporter Casey Newton described The Facebook Files as the biggest crisis the company has faced since the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018. While Facebook has firmly pushed back against the reporting (and, as Hal Crawford noted on The Spinoff, the news media has a not uncomplicated relationship with its platforms), it has also pushed pause on the development of “Instagram for Kids”, a product it had previously been very excited about but has a name which will make most parents feel nauseous.

Slide released by Instagram this month. (Image: Instagram / Archi Banal)

The crisis is largely due to incendiary slides leaked from Facebook, one of which is blunt headlined “we make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls”. The Journal’s reporting also cited another presentation which showed that “among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram”. Facebook has said these numbers lack context, and released other slides suggesting that Instagram made more teens feel better about aspects of their lives than feel worse.

The post by Facebook’s researchers was published this to say “see it’s not all bad”, and it does give a more nuanced picture than what the reporting suggested. But it invites a few very obvious questions. One is a question of degree – does it make it slightly better in some cases, and a lot worse in others? The data does not say. More obviously, multiplied by tens of millions, that’s a lot of suicidal ideation and “made it worse”! Should our government – any government – just let this exist with an unregulated shrug?

This really matters, because Instagram is orders of magnitude more popular than Facebook among young people, with US teens more than four times as likely to be a daily user of Instagram than Facebook. The Spinoff’s own reporting revealed a plethora of local social media accounts which encouraged self-diagnosis of neuro-divergence, while Pew research showed a majority of US teens had experienced cyberbullying on social media. While there is a very fundamental sense of “information wants to be free” culture around the internet, the question is how free, and for whom.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

None of this is to say that the solution is an outright ban, nor China-style access limits. It’s just that, as of today, we as a society have no way of quantifying how widespread these problems are, nor are there any legislative consequences to bad things happening on the platforms. Which seems quite strange.

Google and digital rent

So far I’ve focused on Facebook and Instagram. The lifeblood of social media – what makes it so wildly profitable – is that its users can instantly publish text, images and video which the social platforms then sell hyper-targeted ads around. This happens largely consequence free, thanks to Section 230, a mid-90s US law which means so-called “neutral carriers” who publish content without mediation online are not liable for that content – though increasingly AI and human moderators make the “without mediation” part questionable. Despite New Zealand never passing an equivalent law, we operate as if it governs us too. It is a candidate for the single most consequential piece of legislation ever enacted.

Google is in that business too – its sister company YouTube is by some measures the biggest TV channel in this country, and it gets almost all of its content free. The Spinoff has an active YouTube channel with more than 25,000 subscribers, publishing content funded by NZ on Air. YouTube has well-documented issues with radicalising its users, and the hoax “Plandemic” video was the origin of many Covid-19 conspiracies. It has banned anti-vax content, but did so only in the past few days, which seems a little redundant at this point in the pandemic. YouTube is nonetheless effective enough to be the starting point for any digital advertising campaign at scale, including our government’s vaccination campaign. 

Still, search-based advertising is a much larger business again. Google is imposingly dominant in search, with around 90% market share, and is the default way a vast number of transactions begin. Having a functional monopoly over something as impactful as search means many businesses have little choice but to engage with it. Few type in a URL anymore, simply searching for the business or service they seek in a browser. Search for any large New Zealand company on Google and you’ll find something odd: an advertisement for themselves. 

See also  Driving Innovation in Data Portability with a New Photo Transfer Tool

A small sampling of the hundreds of NZ businesses renting their own name. (Image: Screengrabs/Archi Banal)

Advertisement
free widgets for website

This is because if they don’t buy that ad, a competitor likely will. This and other “must buy” search strings have been called “digital rent”, a functional tax on business simply to do what any Google user assumes would naturally happen when they use its products.

In the above examples, those businesses are paying the rent, and their competitors are staying away. Below is an example of what happens when a business or entity doesn’t pay the rent. 

What happens when you don’t pay the ‘digital rent’ (Image: Screengrabs/Archi Banal)

Crown is not paying the digital rent, and thus Google is selling that space to its competitors. In fact, even with a very specific search string, Crown is the fourth link displayed to consumers, and you have to scroll down to even view the link. People will have different views on whether this is acceptable – but it’s certainly rife with potential for abuse, and a very odd part of our business reality to have no rules associated with it.

Snippets and who pays for content

Along with its dominant role in the online ad market, Google also has an answer to almost any question you might have. It has assumed this role not by generating information, but by sorting and surfacing it. When Google started, two decades ago, you typed your query and then clicked a link to get the answer (hopefully). In so doing, you entered someone else’s online realm – maybe only once, or maybe you enjoyed the experience and returned for years after. Either way, for website owners, the transaction was mutually beneficial, in that after scraping a site, Google gave those sites a visitor that was theirs to profit from (or not) as they wished.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

That era feels like a long time ago. Now Google is much more likely to either display the answer as grey text underneath a link, use machine learning to generate related questions with approximate answers or, increasingly, display the answer in bold type atop the search string.

How Google uses third party content. (Image: Screengrabs/Archi Banal)

This is an amazing experience for the consumer. But it means that the site which assembled that information receives no compensation for its creation. In fact, it likely doesn’t even know the search happened, and has had no opportunity to recoup whatever investment was required to gather it in the first place. Often the information is generic – the release date of an upcoming movie, say. But at other times it will be specific and costly to gather – policy intricacies from an interview with a politician, or data from analysis of a listed company which exists nowhere else.

Google treats all this the same way, and while it might only wrap lucrative advertisements around a relatively small proportion of its search strings, its market dominance is built on the breadth of its usefulness. This is precisely the kind of market imbalance which you might assume would require some rules and regulations or Commerce Commission intervention. Instead, it just rolls on unimpeded. At this point, through the endless expansion of their product suites, Google and Facebook profoundly shape people’s idea of what the internet is – underscoring that this is part of a very deliberate strategy, to keep people in their ecosystem, provide wraparound services for almost every imaginable need. To, as far as they can, become the two main doors into the internet.

The high cost of free

Silicon Valley’s tech giants have innovated across thousands of different areas of human life, and we as a species have rightly marvelled at the hardware and software they have created. Their innovation is hardly limited to those products though. They have also innovated in areas which straddle the legal and the financial. These fall into two broad buckets:

Advertisement
free widgets for website
  • Firstly, our consumer protection laws are mostly written with the idea that the customer is also the person paying. But because Google and Facebook’s products are mostly free to use and funded by advertisers, they evade the natural reach of regulators that would otherwise supervise their impact. We are the product, bundled up and literally sold to the highest bidder – and our laws have not kept pace with this innovation.
  • Secondly, online transactions are much harder to track. Twenty years ago companies turning over hundreds of millions of dollars each year would need substantial local staff and likely be selling physical products or human-delivered services, so would naturally be taxed. But internet sales are less tangible and visible. Hence Facebook and Google can extract enormous revenues from Aotearoa while paying very little in tax. 

This is before we get to the immense government costs associated with dealing with the “free” products. The enormous growth in communications staff driven by the rise of social media. Expensive campaigns to combat vaccine myths propagated on YouTube and Facebook. Consumer warned recently about social media quizzes that exist to extract personal information hackers can use to access your bank accounts. There is an endless list of costs citizens, businesses and the government have to bear, ultimately tracing back to the wildly profitable, extremely complicated world we have made due to a complete absence of regulation of the search and social spaces.

What we do with other complicated products

Despite their enormous scale and influence, social media and search fall into a regulatory void that stands in stark contrast to many other areas of our economy. We have rules around toys, liquor, cars, advertising, drugs, cigarettes and takeaways. Some are relatively light touch, such as requirements that toys targeting young children don’t have choking hazards. Others are very punitive, like the packaging and sale restrictions on cigarettes, or the outright ban we place on many recreational drugs. These are expanded and complemented by excise taxes on fuel, alcohol and cigarettes which help fund infrastructure or social costs arising from these products. 

Social media and search are glaring absences from that list, in part due to the internet emerging and the companies being founded during an era when deregulation was globally on trend – but any clear-eyed assessment would mark them as screaming for rules, tax and oversight. Each has clear positive effects that many of us experience every day. They also have many problematic areas that impact everything from competition in business to the mental health of teenagers. And yet there is no concerted push toward a regulatory framework here.

In fact, despite the world-conquering scale of search and social media, we in Aotearoa appear a long way from any serious attempt to reckon with the impact of these firms. No businesses in history have ever grown so fast while retaining profit margins as high as 40% (by contrast, the average New Zealand retailer has a profit margin of 3.7%). Which is to say that Facebook and Google can easily afford to fund a regulatory regime and make positive tax contributions to the countries they operate in. 

For now they sit in a new middleground, part utilities (like Chorus, which operates our wholesale broadband), part publishers (like The Spinoff). Utilities are subject to intense oversight by the Commerce Commission. Media is overseen by multiple agencies including the censor, media council and Broadcasting Standards Authority. In between sit social media and search, exploiting the grey area unimagined by our laws, and exporting unfathomable amounts of cash in the process, leaving multiplying social problems in their wake. 

See also  Exclusive: Facebook freezes Venezuela president Maduro's page over COVID-19 misinformation

We can move fast, when we understand the issue

On Monday, The Spinoff reported Consumer as calling for regulation of the nascent “buy now, pay later” sector, where firms like Afterpay and Laybuy take advantage of low interest rates to offer free short-term loans. These, unsurprisingly, can have harsh fees for those who miss payments. The sector is a very recent arrival in Aotearoa, but has grown swiftly in popularity, to the point where it’s estimated that consumers have paid over $10m in penalties over the past year. No-fee lending is very new, but MBIE, the government’s business ministry, is already taking a look at it.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

This shows that where the issue is clear, we can move quickly. Social and search are deeply complex and challenging, and grow more so by the day. This is brilliant business, but also brilliant strategy. The longer we take to address it, the more Google and Facebook appear too complex and unconquerable, bigger and more powerful than any nation state. Because they’re so transnational – indeed transcending borders is a huge part of their success – both citizens and government can feel like the idea of regulation is akin to trying to hold air in your hand.

This is particularly true for governments, which increasingly rely on them, and fear upsetting them. When MP David Clark, then in opposition raised the spectre of banning Facebook from New Zealand for its paltry tax payments a few years ago he was ridiculed. This is a perennial hazard of dealing with the tech giants, always itching to make politicians look old and out-of-touch (which, to be fair, is often not hard). Likewise, when Facebook briefly shut down news distribution in Australia earlier this year, it felt like a plotline from dystopian fiction, and it was hard to know whether the public would blame the social platform or Scott Morrison. 

That episode is instructive, though. After a few days Facebook blinked and turned the news back on. Google, after sabre-rattling with a threat to withdraw from Australia, caved and made deals with Australian news media after Microsoft adroitly indicated its excitement about taking over its search business in the country. Those deals were, in truth, not the best way forward – a bargain of convenience between the grizzled veterans of the Australian media scene and the tech companies, but they do show that the platforms will get around the table if they are made to. 

Here in Aotearoa, we can do things differently. We need to – with te Tiriti as our founding document, we have obligations here that exist nowhere else in the world. Google and Facebook, indeed all the tech giants, are ultimately extraordinary collectors, sorters and retailers of data. In Aotearoa, the idea that holders of data should act as its kaitiaki rather than thinking solely in commercial terms is gaining ground. Should Google or Facebook change the way they operate according to our specific social context? Given their ubiquity, it feels like a question we must ask ourselves.

Where to from here?

In truth, all of this is hard. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” said a software engineer in a 2017 BusinessWeek story, and the complexity and pace at which this has evolved makes regulation difficult. This is compounded by the fact that some of the next-best minds work in government relations for Facebook and Google, and are adept at making politicians feel scared and small and intellectually incapable of approaching these issues. 

Advertisement
free widgets for website

It’s hard, but not impossible. Germany passed a law requiring tech giants to monitor and cooperate with authorities on online hate speech. It worked well enough to prompt some users outside Germany to switch their location to avoid Nazi trolls, though has issues which have prompted an evolution. The EU has fined Google for anti-competitive behaviour, innovated around data privacy and introduced a “right to be forgotten” from search engines. These forays are imperfect, but should embolden us to test legislation and learn too. Even the companies themselves are starting to weary of this chaos, with Facebook itself calling for better regulations. Which, great – but they should on terms set by us, not by the platforms themselves.

Advertising run in Axios newsletters. (Image: Archi Banal)

The great thing is that actually grappling with this has major upside. There is immense tax revenue waiting there, which could compensate the government for the money it spends fixing issues like vaccine information disorder or paying for the production of journalism, which has become far less economic since Google and Facebook became the digital ad economy. Businesses would no doubt appreciate not having to rent their own names from Google. Parents would be thrilled if there were firmer guidance or even penalties around what happens to their tamariki on social media. 

Which is to say there are votes in figuring this out, as well as money.

Facebook and Google need not fear it, either. What it costs in tax revenue (which, morally, they should be paying anyway) they will make back in ever-more unassailable moats which protect their businesses. This will turn them into the safe, slightly boring utilities they aspired to be at birth. The good things which happen on social media – communities built, activists organised, small businesses started and grown – can still happen. Information can still be profitably organised and surfaced by search engines, even if those who created it are compensated for that work. Data gathered can be used in innovative ways even if it is cared for and its uses well-signalled.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

We’ve done this before

It took years for us to start really thinking about cars. To get past the romance of them and into the reality. The below graph shows the horrific toll – more than 40,000 dead on our roads over the last 100 years, but tapering down since we really started to take safety seriously in the ’90s. We didn’t throw cars away, we made using them safer. Everything from mandatory seat belts to lowered drink-drive limits to speeding campaigns to better road engineering ultimately combined to save thousands of lives.



By then some of the other scars of an uncritical and unregulated relationship with cars were baked in. Motorways split communities and encouraged poor use of land. Air quality suffered. Public transport plans were abandoned. Now there is a broad political consensus that we need to build up in our cities, and focus on public transport hubs. It’s come a few decades late.

While social and search aren’t leaving bodies by the roadside, they do have a complex mixture of positive and negative impacts on us as a society. It feels like we’re at a turning point. We know the good they do. We also can’t ignore the harm. 

Maybe it’s time we did something about it?


Independent journalism takes time, money and hard work to produce. We rely on donations to fund our work. If you can help, donate to The Spinoff Members

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Read More

FACEBOOK

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

Published

on

By

updating-special-ad-audiences-for-housing,-employment,-and-credit-advertisers

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.

See also  3 Reasons to Buy Facebook, and 1 Reason to Sell | The Motley Fool

For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

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

Advertisement
free widgets for website
Continue Reading

FACEBOOK

Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

Published

on

By

introducing-an-update-to-the-data-protection-assessment

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:

Something Went Wrong

Advertisement
free widgets for website

We’re having trouble playing this video.

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

Advertisement
free widgets for website
See also  Driving Innovation in Data Portability with a New Photo Transfer Tool
Continue Reading

FACEBOOK

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

Published

on

By

resources-for-completing-app-store-data-practice-questionnaires-for-apps-that-include-the-facebook-or-audience-network-sdk

Updated July 18: Developers and advertising partners may be required to share information on their app’s privacy practices in third party app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store, including the functionality of SDKs provided by Meta. To help make it easier for you to complete these requirements, we have consolidated information that explains our data collection practices for the Facebook and Audience Network SDKs.

Facebook SDK

To provide functionality within the Facebook SDK, we may receive and process certain contact, location, identifier, and device information associated with Facebook users and their use of your application. The information we receive depends on what SDK features 3rd party applications use and we have structured the document below according to these features.

App Ads, Facebook Analytics, & App Events

Facebook App Events allow you to measure the performance of your app using Facebook Analytics, measure conversions associated with Facebook ads, and build audiences to acquire new users as well as re-engage existing users. There are a number of different ways your app can use app events to keep track of when people take specific actions such as installing your app or completing a purchase.

With Facebook SDK, there are app events that are automatically logged (app installs, app launches, and in-app purchases) and collected for Facebook Analytics unless you disable automatic event logging. Developers determine what events to send to Facebook from a list of standard events, or via a custom event.

When developers send Facebook custom events, these events could include data types outside of standard events. Developers control sending these events to Facebook either directly via application code or in Events Manager for codeless app events. Developers can review their code and Events Manager to determine which data types they are sending to Facebook. It’s the developer’s responsibility to ensure this is reflected in their application’s privacy policy.

Advertisement
free widgets for website

Advanced Matching

Developers may also send us additional user contact information in code, or via the Events Manager. Advanced matching functionality may use the following data, if sent:

  • email address, name, phone number, physical address (city, state or province, zip or postal code and country), gender, and date of birth.
See also  How Facebook Undermines Privacy Protections for Its 2 Billion WhatsApp Users | San Jose Inside

Facebook Login

There are two scenarios for applications that use Facebook Login via the Facebook SDK: Authenticated Sign Up or Sign In, and User Data Access via Permissions. For authentication, a unique, app-specific identifier tied to a user’s Facebook Account enables the user to sign in to your app. For Data Access, a user must explicitly grant your app permission to access data.

Note: Since Facebook Login is part of the Facebook SDK, we may collect other information referenced here when you use Facebook Login, depending on your settings.

Device Information

We may also receive and process the following information if your app is integrated with the Facebook SDK:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, CPU core, storage size, SDK version, OS and app versions, and app package name; and
  • Networking information, such as the name of the mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, and IP address.

Audience Network SDK

We may receive and process the following information when you use the Audience Network SDK to integrate Audience Network ads in your app:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, operating system, mediation platform and SDK versions; and
  • Ad performance information, such as impressions, clicks, placement, and viewability.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

Continue Reading

Trending