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Correcting the rumors: Facebook's new "tracking" APIs

FearYesterday, Facebook announced two new tools for publishers and marketers. These tools are ways for publishers and marketers to access public Facebook posts. This is a sound strategy for Facebook and will work nicely for many publishers.

As with most advances, rumors and speculation about the evil consequences of Facebook's new tools are flying wildly across the net. Luckily, few of these rumors and much of this "reporting" is far from accurate.

Here's are a few things the Public Feed API and Keywords Insights API aren't doing:

  • Giving away your posts and conversations to marketers. See why below.
  • Tracking rack anything you write in private. See why below.
  • Doing the same thing as Twitter tracking tools such as Radian 6. 
    • Most Twitter posts are public and most Facebook posts are private. These tools don't track private posts or conversations.
    • Many if not most Twitter users uses aliases. Almost all Facebook users use real names. Twitter tracking and Facebook reporting are different beasts because the platforms are so different.
    • Social tracking tools are built for hard market intelligence and engagement. These tools provide high level conversation trackers.

Here's the big shocker: nothing has changed:

  1. If you have your Facebook privacy settings set on anything other than "public", nothing has changed. You will not be tracked any more than you were before these APIs were released.
  2. If you have your Facebook privacy settings set to public, your posts are already public and attributable to your public profile. Again, nothing has changed.

These tools present incredible power to publishers and marketers. But not at the expense of your privacy. 

Thank you, nothing to see here, please go about your business as normal, and have a great day.