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Leaving Facebook? Easier said than done

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But the 36-year-old communications professional in Ann Arbor, Mich., realized some of her photos were only stored on Facebook, so she periodically “would reactivate to like, find a funny picture of a friend on their birthday or something like that, and then I would immediately deactivate my account,” she says. “I did not want to get sucked back in.”

It happened in 2019, when Wanamaker had a baby, and was up, alone, for late-night feedings.

“I was so bored. I felt like I had reached the end of the Internet,” she says. “I’d read all the books I wanted to read. I would watch, oh my God, I watched so many shows on HGTV.”

And when there was nothing left to watch, the siren call of former classmates and past co-workers and so-and-so from that one conference five years ago proved too irresistible to ignore.

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“I’m just going to look around for a couple hours to see what’s going on, and see what’s on this dystopian hellscape,” is what she told herself. Sure, Beth. A couple hours turned into days, which turned into joining a Facebook group for local moms, and then an active Buy Nothing group, which turned into still being here, 2½ years later, even though she disapproves of pretty much everything the company has done recently.

Which is a long list. Here’s a quick summary from the Facebook Papers, a trove of leaked documents: The platform fomented the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, fueled covid misinformation, prioritized “angry” emoji reactions to circulate provocative and violent content in users’ feeds, fueled hate speech and violence in India, and chose growth over safety. Internal research found that its sister platform, Instagram, makes body image issues worse for 1 in 3 teen girls. And then there was the Cambridge Analytica scandal from the 2016 election, the antitrust lawsuit last year, a 2019 data breach, and the PTSD its content moderators developed after reviewing horrific images every day. Now the company has changed its name to Meta, keeping the original name for the website, moving on with its plans for what sounds a lot like total brain domination.

The takeaway from all of this? Facebook is bad! Nevertheless, more than 2 billion of us are still there — some reluctantly, some enthusiastically. Because even though the platform is a cesspool of toxicity, there are reasons to stay. Maybe it’s the only way you keep in touch with your aunt. Or find out what’s happening in your hometown. Or catch up with gossip from your high school friends. That’s Facebook’s trap: The emotional connections are inextricable from the algorithm that keeps us clicking against our own best interests.

“I kind of hate Facebook, but also can’t cut ties,” says Abbie Grotke, 54, of Silver Spring, Md. She’s still here because it’s the easiest way to keep in touch with family living abroad, and certain friends.

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“We don’t talk all that regularly. So like, cousins and things like that, some photos and then lighthearted news,” she says. “I would probably just email them. But it’s also — they’re all there.”

We’re all there, which is why it’s hard to leave.

Kathy Delgado, 55, is a Los Angeles importer of French antiques. Though she describes Facebook as “a very toxic place,” many customers buy things through her Facebook and Instagram business pages.

“I made three sales this morning,” she says. “If you don’t respond in a timely fashion, people spend their money elsewhere.”

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Tori Matejovsky, 40, of Wolf Point, Mont., says Facebook is “not even fun anymore,” but she’s trapped, because “That’s where everything is,” including critical information about her children’s schools, like weather closings. “They might send out a text, but they put it on Facebook first.”

Those are practical concerns. But what about the emotional ones? The love/hate for Facebook runs deep among millennials of a certain age, who joined the platform in the mid-aughts and have chronicled their lives there ever since. They can’t quite bear to part with an archive of their burgeoning adult years: from keggers to graduation to first job announcements to big “relationship status” updates. It’s like a digital scrapbook — one that now happens to be mixed up with people’s furious political rants and cringey “Minions” memes.

“I just wanted the college [email], the dot edu, so I could have a Facebook,” says Laura Lape, 33, of Fort Worth, Tex. “I remember getting my acceptance letter while I was a senior in high school and then going to the computer lab at my high school to set up an account.” She friended upperclassmen at random. She updated her status when Facebook still prompted people to do so in the third person. She never thought that 15 years later, she’d find the site “sketchy.”

Hence, the recent spate of “I quit” announcements that have been flitting across people’s news feeds. (“This is not an airport, you don’t have to announce departures,” is inevitably someone’s reply.)

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) issued a news release last week that he will “deactivate his Facebook and Instagram accounts until both its parent company and Congress make substantial reforms that protect our children, health and democratic values.” (The release notes that constituents can reach out to him via Twitter, phone, email, snail mail and, helpfully, fax.)

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Jaden Perkins, 21, of Omaha, posted on Aug. 13 that he was leaving Facebook, where he had been active since the eighth grade.

“I am making the conscious decision to permanently delete my Facebook account as I see very little benefit of using this platform any longer,” he wrote. Two months later, he was back, with a post that began “LIFE UPDATE!!!!!” He was starting a political podcast.

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“Even though I’ve been trying to grow that audience on other platforms, Facebook is my largest audience,” he told The Post.

Or you could post that you’re leaving, and give everyone multiple ways to contact you, and hear . . . crickets.

“I made a post on Facebook saying, ‘I’m done,’ ” says Shadrach Stanleigh, 55, of New York, who gave friends a grace period, and alternate contact info. “No one has reached out to me through any other means.”

He’s not asking for pity. Rather, Stanleigh thinks it’s an example of how Facebook has made us all lazy communicators: “Maybe people just get so conditioned to it when they can just send a direct message in lieu of a phone call or an email,” he says.

That’s also why the tech accountability group Kairos is easing people into its Facebook Logout campaign, which encourages users to log out Nov. 10-13. The goal isn’t to get people to leave Facebook permanently, says Mariana Ruiz Firmat, executive director at Kairos and a Facebook user. It’s “to get Facebook to change its policies and practices so that it is protecting users’ privacy.”

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“It’s not a light ask to ask people to log out or even think about logging out because we have a lot on these platforms,” says Jelani Drew-Davi, Kairos’s campaigns director. The campaign has helped people prepare practically — by showing them the steps to log out, something many people have never actually done before — and emotionally.

“Is it someone’s birthday during that time? Do you want to send them a card instead of writing on their wall? Or do you have something that you need to pick up from your no-buy swap group? Like, maybe do that before the log out,” says Drew-Davi.

Or you could just quit and overcome the FOMO. Jamie Mangrum, 35, of Largo, Md., used to be a self-described “avid user.” Her relationship with the platform became unhealthy, she says, when she found herself “seeing that what other people were doing was kind of like, a commodity for me,” and comparing herself to her peers constantly. So she quit. Ten years ago. And hasn’t looked back.

Yes, she’s missed more than a few invitations to parties that were organized on Facebook. And it made her sad, she says, to think about people she might never see or hear of again. People she might forget, and who might forget her. The little updates on loved ones’ lives she would miss.

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“I had to be okay with that for my own peace of mind,” says Mangrum. “I knew that if I was intended to know that information, if I was intended to understand it, it would have come to me.”

That’s Lape’s logoff fear: being forgotten. The Texas mom’s posts on Facebook are basic family updates.

“It’s just kind of a reminder,” she says. “Hi, it’s us, we’re alive. We have kids. They’re doing great. Don’t forget about us.”

If a Facebook news feed is a collection of all of the people in our lives, there’s a certain comfort in knowing how those people are doing. How else will you know when your high school chem lab partner has a third kid? Or that your former hairdresser has become an “energy healer?” Or that your neighbor just took a lovely trip to Greece? Having a Facebook-only relationship doesn’t preclude you from getting a fuzzy feeling when you see that someone’s kid learned how to walk, or sparing a thought for them when you see that their grandpa died. Even if all you did was click that huggy-heart reaction button.

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Yes, we lived many decades without knowing quite so many things about so many people, and that was fine, and we were fine. And some people would be happy to return to the blissful days of not having to waste any brainspace on the relationship status of your sophomore roommate’s friend who came to your Halloween party once. But for others — maybe the more sentimental among us — going back to that ignorance feels like a loss.

“Maybe that’s a little bit of what ties me to it, is just a bit of my own personal history, and all the people I’ve met along the way that I may not remember their names or have much direct contact with them,” says Lynda Laughlin, 44, of D.C. They remind her of who she used to be, and how far she’s come.

It makes real-life interactions easier, too. When Delgado’s father died, she posted about it on Facebook as an efficient way to not have the same sad conversation several dozen times.

“When someone says, ‘What’s going on? You don’t want to jolt someone on the spot by saying, ‘Oh, my dad just died,’ you know?” Acquaintances who saw it online offered their in-person condolences. “I found it all extremely comforting,” she says, and not just when she was grieving. “Even with the birthdays, to have people all reach out.”

Is one day of birthday wishes worth 364 other days of bad takes and antivax posts and political disinformation? A few hours after she spoke with a reporter, Wanamaker wrote back with a status update: “So I just deactivated my Facebook again.”

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Godspeed, Beth. Maintain your resolve. See you again, in a few months, or years.

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Understanding Authorization Tokens and Access for the WhatsApp Business Platform

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The WhatsApp Business Platform makes it easy to send WhatsApp messages to your customers and automate replies. Here, we’ll explore authentication using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta.

We’ll start with generating and using a temporary access token and then replace it with a permanent access token. This tutorial assumes you’re building a server-side application and won’t need additional steps to keep your WhatsApp application secrets securely stored.

Managing Access and Authorization Tokens

First, let’s review how to manage authorization tokens and safely access the API.

Prerequisites

Start by making sure you have a developer account on Meta for Developers. You’ll also need WhatsApp installed on a mobile device to send test messages to.

Creating an App

Before you can authenticate, you’ll need an application to authenticate you.

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Once you’re signed in, you see the Meta for Developers App Dashboard. Click Create App to get started.

Next, you’ll need to choose an app type. Choose Business.

After that, enter a display name for your application. If you have a business account to link to your app, select it. If not, don’t worry. The Meta for Developers platform creates a test business account you can use to experiment with the API. When done, click Create App.

Then, you’ll need to add products to your app. Scroll down until you see WhatsApp and click the Set up button:

Finally, choose an existing Meta Business Account or ask the platform to create a new one and click Continue:

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And with that, your app is created and ready to use. You’re automatically directed to the app’s dashboard.

Note that you have a temporary access token. For security reasons, the token expires in less than 24 hours. However, you can use it for now to test accessing the API. Later, we’ll cover how to generate a permanent access token that your server applications can use. Also, note your app’s phone number ID because you’ll need it soon.

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Click the dropdown under the To field, and then click Manage phone number list.

In the popup that appears, enter the phone number of a WhatsApp account to send test messages to.

Then, scroll further down the dashboard page and you’ll see an example curl call that looks similar to this:

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curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Note that the Meta for Developers platform inserts your app’s phone number ID and access token instead of the and placeholders shown above. If you have curl installed, paste the command into your terminal and run it. You should receive a “hello world” message in WhatsApp on your test device.

If you’d prefer, you can convert the curl request into an HTTP request in your programming language by simply creating a POST request that sets the Authorization and Content-Type headers as shown above, including the JSON payload in the request body.

Since this post is about authentication, let’s focus on that. Notice that you’ve included your app’s access token in the Authorization header. For any request to the API, you must set the Authorization header to Bearer .

Remember that you must use your token instead of the placeholder. Using bearer tokens will be familiar if you’ve worked with JWT or OAuth2 tokens before. If you’ve never seen one before, a bearer token is essentially a random secret string that you, as the bearer of the token, can present to an API to prove you’re allowed to access it.

Failure to include this header causes the API to return a 401 Unauthorized response code.

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Creating a Permanent Access Token

Knowing that you need to use a bearer token in the Authorization header of an HTTP request is helpful, but it’s not enough. The only access token you’ve seen so far is temporary. Chances are that you want your app to access the API for more than 24 hours, so you need to generate a longer-lasting access token.

Fortunately, the Meta for Developers platform makes this easy. All you need to do is add a System User to your business account to obtain an access token you can use to continue accessing the API. To create a system user, do the following:

  • Go to Business Settings.

  • Select the business account your app is associated with.
  • Below Users, click System Users.
  • Click Add.
  • Name the system user, choose Admin as the user role, and click Create System User.
  • Select the whatsapp_business_messaging permission.
  • Click Generate New Token.
  • Copy and save your token.

Your access token is a random string of letters and numbers. Now, try re-running the earlier request using the token you just created instead of the temporary one:

curl -i -X POST https://graph.facebook.com/v13.0//messages -H 'Authorization: Bearer ' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{ "messaging_product": "whatsapp", "to": "", "type": "template", "template": { "name": "hello_world", "language": { "code": "en_US" } } }'

Your test device should receive a second hello message sent via the API.

Best Practices for Managing Access Tokens

It’s important to remember that you should never embed an App Access Token in a mobile or desktop application. These tokens are only for use in server-side applications that communicate with the API. Safeguard them the same way you would any other application secrets, like your database credentials, as anyone with your token has access to the API as your business.

If your application runs on a cloud services provider like AWS, Azure, GCP, or others, those platforms have tools to securely store app secrets. Alternatively there are freely-available secret stores like Vault or Conjur. While any of these options may work for you, it’s important to evaluate your options and choose what works best for your setup. At the very least, consider storing access tokens in environment variables and not in a database or a file where they’re easy to find during a data breach.

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Conclusion

In this post, you learned how to create a Meta for Developers app that leverages the WhatsApp Business Platform. You now know how the Cloud API’s bearer access tokens work, how to send an access token using an HTTP authorization header, and what happens if you send an invalid access token. You also understand the importance of keeping your access tokens safe since an access token allows an application to access a business’ WhatsApp messaging capabilities.

Why not try using the Cloud API, hosted by Meta if you’re considering building an app for your business to manage WhatsApp messaging? Now that you know how to obtain and use access tokens, you can use them to access any endpoint in the API.

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Now people can share directly to Instagram Reels from some of their favorite apps

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More people are creating, sharing and watching Reels than ever before. We’ve seen the creator community dive deeply into video content – and use it to connect with their communities. We’re running a limited alpha test that lets creators share video content directly from select integrated apps to Instagram Reels. Now, creators won’t be interrupted in their workflow, making it easier for them share share and express themselves on Reels.

“With the shift to video happening across almost all online platforms, our innovative tools and services empower creativity and fuel the creator economy and we are proud to be able to offer a powerful editing tool like Videoleap that allows seamless content creation, while partnering with companies like Meta to make sharing content that much easier.”- Zeev Farbman, CEO and co-founder of Lightricks.

Starting this month, creators can share short videos directly to Instagram Reels from some of their favorite apps, including Videoleap, Reface, Smule, VivaVideo, SNOW, B612, VITA and Zoomerang, with more coming soon. These apps and others also allow direct sharing to Facebook , which is available for any business with a registered Facebook App to use.

We hope to expand this test to more partners in 2023. If you’re interested in being a part of that beta program, please fill out this form and we will keep track of your submission. We do not currently have information to share about general availability of this integration.

Learn more here about sharing Stories and Reels to Facebook and Instagram and start building today.

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FAQs

Q. What is the difference between the Instagram Content Publishing API and Instagram Sharing to Reels?

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A: Sharing to Reels is different from the Instagram Content Publishing API, which allows Instagram Business accounts to schedule and publish posts to Instagram from third-party platforms. Sharing to Reels is specifically for mobile apps to display a ‘Share to Reels’ widget. The target audience for the Share to Reels widget is consumers, whereas the Content Publishing API is targeted towards businesses, including third-party publishing platforms such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social that consolidate sharing to social media platforms within their third-party app.

Q: Why is Instagram partnering with other apps?

A: Creators already use a variety of apps to create and edit videos before uploading them to Instagram Reels – now we’re making that experience faster and easier. We are currently doing a small test of an integration with mobile apps that creators know and love, with more coming soon.

Q: How can I share my video from another app to Reels on Instagram?

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A: How it works (Make sure to update the mobile app you’re using to see the new Share to Reels option):

  • Create and edit your video in one of our partner apps
  • Once your video is ready, tap share and then tap the Instagram Reels icon
  • You will enter the Instagram Camera, where you can customize your reel with audio, effects, Voiceover and stickers. Record any additional clips or swipe up to add an additional clip from your camera roll.
  • Tap ‘Next’ to add a caption, hashtag, location, tag others or use the paid partnerships label.
  • Tap ‘Share’. Your reel will be visible where you share reels today, depending on your privacy settings.
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Q: How were partners selected?

A. We are currently working with a small group of developers that focus on video creation and editing as early partners. We’ll continue to expand to apps with other types of creation experiences.

Q: When will other developers be able to access Sharing to Reels on Instagram?

A: We do not currently have a date for general availability, but are planning to expand further in 2023.

Q: Can you share to Facebook Reels from other apps?

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A: Yes, Facebook offers the ability for developers to integrate with Sharing to Reels. For more information on third-party sharing opportunities, check out our entire suite of sharing offerings .

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What to know about Presto SQL query engine and PrestoCon

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The open source Presto SQL query engine is used by a diverse set of companies to navigate increasingly large data workflows. These companies are using Presto in support of e-commerce, cloud, security and other areas. Not only do many companies use Presto, but individuals from those companies are also active contributors to the Presto open source community.

In support of that community, Presto holds meetups around the world and has an annual conference, PrestoCon, where experts and contributors gather to exchange knowledge. This year’s PrestoCon, hosted by the Linux Foundation, takes place December 7-8 in Mountain View, CA. This blog post will explore some foundational elements of Presto and what to expect at this year’s PrestoCon.

What is Presto?

Presto is a distributed SQL query engine for data platform teams. Presto users can perform interactive queries on data where it lives using ANSI SQL across federated and diverse sources. Query engines allow data scientists and analysts to focus on building dashboards and utilizing BI tools so that data engineers can focus on storage and management, all while communicating through a unified connection layer.

In short, the scientist does not have to consider how or where data is stored, and the engineer does not have to optimize for every use case for the data sources they manage. You can learn more about Presto in a recent ELI5 video below.

Caption: Watch the video by clicking on the image above.

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Presto was developed to solve the problem of petabyte-scale, multi-source data queries taking hours or days to return. These resources and time constraints make real-time analysis impossible. Presto can return results from those same queries in less than a second in most cases, allowing for interactive data exploration.

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Not only is it highly scalable, but it’s also extensible, allowing you to build your own connector for any data source Presto does not already support. At a low level, Presto also supports a wide range of file types for query processing. Presto was open sourced by Meta and later donated to the Linux Foundation in September of 2019.

Here are some Presto resources for those who are new to the community:

What is PrestoCon?

PrestoCon is held annually in the Bay Area and hosted by the Linux Foundation. This year, the event takes place December 7-8 at the Computer History Museum. You can register here. Each year at PrestoCon, you can hear about the latest major evolutions of the platform, how different organizations use Presto and what plans the Technical Steering Committee has for Presto in the coming year.

Presto’s scalability is especially apparent as every year we hear from small startups, as well as industry leaders like Meta and Uber, who are using the Presto platform for different use cases, whether those are small or large. If you’re looking to contribute to open source, PrestoCon is a great opportunity for networking as well as hearing the vision that the Technical Steering Committee has for the project in the coming year.

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Explore what’s happening at PrestoCon 2022:

Where is Presto used?

Since its release in November of 2013, Presto has been used as an integral part of big data pipelines within Meta and other massive-scale companies, including Uber and Twitter.

The most common use case is connecting business intelligence tools to vast data sets within an organization. This enables crucial questions to be answered faster and data-driven decision-making can be more efficient.

How does Presto work?

First, a coordinator takes your statement and parses it into a query. The internal planner generates an optimized plan as a series of stages, which are further separated into tasks. Tasks are then assigned to workers to process in parallel.

Workers then use the relevant connector to pull data from the source.

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The output of each task is returned by the workers, until the stage is complete. The stage’s output is returned by the final worker towards the next stage, where another series of tasks must be executed.

The results of stages are combined, eventually returning the final result of the original statement to the coordinator, which then returns to the client.

How do I get involved?

To start using Presto, go to prestodb.io and click Get Started.

We would love for you to join the Presto Slack channel if you have any questions or need help. Visit the community page on the Presto website to see all the ways you can get involved and find other users and developers interested in Presto.

If you would like to contribute, go to the GitHub repository and read over the Contributors’ Guide.

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Where can I learn more?

To learn more about Presto, check out its website for installation guides, user guides, conference talks and samples.

Make sure you check out previous Presto talks, and attend the annual PrestoCon event if you are able to do so.

To learn more about Meta Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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