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While the title of this update from Facebook is “Changes to Groups API Access,” in actually, there’s no change at all. Rather, it’s an enforcement of an existing change from earlier.
According to the update:
Before April 2018, group admins could authorize an app for a group, which gave the app developer access to information in the group. But as part of the changes to the Groups API after April 2018, if an admin authorized this access, that app would only get information, such as the group’s name, the number of users, and the content of posts. For an app to access additional information such as name and profile picture in connection with group activity, group members had to opt-in.
If you’ve used any 3rd party tools in conjunction with Facebook Groups recently, such as Ecamm Live, you may know that in order for the tool to see member’s names and profile images, that member must individually give that app authorization. This is, for instance, how a live streamer using Ecamm to broadcast into a Group can see who left a comment on that stream.
This change to the API occurred some time ago and it why most social media management tools dropped support for monitoring within Groups – the data is useless without that individualized permission.
What today’s notice brings up though is that in many cases – up to 100 – tools that are still providing Group related services have been retaining user data. Facebook did not specify which tools were retaining data but made it clear that they would be performing complete audits.
What does this mean to you?
If you’ve previously granted a tool like Ecamm permission to view your information as part of a Group function, you’ll likely need to grant that permission again the next time it comes up. Furthermore, such apps may have to build in automated removal of your information and permission after a short amount of time, which means you may find yourself having to re-authorize such tools more regularly.
My only concern is that if tools are forced to require such re-authorization too often, users will balk at the requests and stop participating, rendering them far less useful. I know if my group members have to re-authorize Ecamm each and every month that we broadcast into out group, they’ll stop doing it and that will impact our ability to see and engage with those members.
Got questions about this latest update? Hit me up.