It’s hard to believe a Channel 4 exposé on Cambridge Analytica would result in changes for Instagram but it did. After the documentary aired, Facebook found itself at the heart of the scandal and the wider Zuckerberg network has been affected. So, how have they reacted?
Zuckerberg, who has been asked to appear in both the Houses of Parliament and Congress, has flip flopped on the issue. At first he said the problems would take years to fix, then the word acceleration came into play. Facebook has been haemorrhaging users for over a fortnight, 5% of their UK users have vowed to leave the platform.
Instagram & APIs
As expected Facebook have begun making wholesale changes, starting with Instagram. Instagram had planned to alter API permissions later this year but the action was moved forward. Instagram APIs allow profiles to automatically share and like content as well as follow users automatically. Some people noted some APIs had stopped working before the announcement was made.
Often people will use these third party apps to follow all the accounts that follow another user. This practice of binge following allows people to grow their own following at an accelerated speed. Generally speaking, if you use bots, you could be setting yourself up for failure anyway. Unfortunately, this may be the end of generic comments on your posts such as ‘Great Shot!!!?’ and ‘???’ from #insta Strangers.
Instagram is widely viewed as the homeland of influencer marketing, and in the wake of these changes influencer agencies have begun feeling the effects already. New limits on tracking users, hashtags and other info will slow down data gathering for agencies. Traditionally Facebook has had a good relationship with developers and they have had adequate warnings ahead of changes, but not this time.
Increased pressure on the platform has undoubtedly caused them to shoot from the hip, however all is not lost. As much as data limits will hinder agencies, it will not deter them from using the highly valuable platform. Some agencies have found short term fixes for the problems they are facing, such as changing to business accounts.
In limiting data access, Facebook is following a greater trend in 2018. While the Cambridge Analytica scandal forced Facebook’s hand, we are also headed into an era of improved data protection. GDPR which was ratified over 2 years ago, will come into law across Europe on May 25th.
The new law will put pressure on companies to justify why they have data and will improve data storage techniques. Larger companies stand to lose as much as €20M or 4% of turnover as a fine, so there’s no doubt they’ll be wanting to send out the right messages. Given the volume of data held by Facebook on European citizens, changes to how they manage data seemed inevitable.
If you’re unsure how the API changes or GDPR will affect your business, contact Digital 24 now for social media advice and management.