How New Social Media Restrictions Could Affect Your Team

For different reasons, Twitter and Facebook are taking steps to limit the amount and types of data that can be accessed or shared on their social networks. The moves, also affecting Instagram and an array of third-party apps, will pose new challenges for your social media team.

The two most prominent social media platforms have put the clamps on their application programming interfaces (APIs)—and that could make life a lot harder for your association’s social media managers.

This week, Facebook announced a series of changes related to its response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data firm acquired millions of social media records through illicit means. (Facebook’s announcement revealed that up to 87 million users were affected by the Cambridge Analytica data leak—up from the original estimate of 50 million.)

Among the changes Facebook announced was a series of limitations to several APIs for Facebook features that common third-party tools might use, including Events, Groups, and Pages. Third parties will need to get approval from Facebook to implement the APIs in their services.

Additionally, Facebook will severely restrict how much data advertisers can access from its analytics tools. The company said it was trying to strike a balance between data protection and allowing developers to do interesting things with the service.

“We expect to make more changes over the coming months—and will keep you updated on our progress,” Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in the blog post.

The changes will have an impact on Facebook-owned Instagram, which was in the process of shutting down its Platform API. Instagram decided to turn what was to be a gradual change into an immediate one.

The limitation on the Instagram API in particular was dramatic. According to Recode, developers saw their access to the API turn from a stream to a trickle in a matter of hours last weekend, before many features used by the API were shut off entirely—which meant that many social management apps stopped working unexpectedly. Instagram is pushing developers to its Graph API, which offers fewer capabilities than the company’s original API did, with a focus on brand management and comment moderation.

Twitter’s Changing, Too

Facebook’s limitations are far from the only ones that social media managers might face when doing their jobs in the coming weeks and months.

Last month, a previously announced policy change by Twitter severely limited the value of social media tools such as HootSuite, Edgar, and Buffer by preventing shared content across multiple accounts. The move was meant to prevent a controversial activity called “Tweetdecking,” in which social media users were paid to have large accounts reshare information on multiple accounts.

But the real surprise came after the change was implemented, when Twitter clarified that it would not allow automation on the same account. On Friday, this move led Buffer to turn off its popular “re-buffering” feature on Twitter accounts.

Marketing Land noted that the result of the Twitter changes in particular was that much less automation would be able to be used, requiring more work on the part of social media managers.

Apryl Pilolli, Cox Media’s senior product manager for social, characterized Twitter’s rules as an overreaction to the problem.

“The fact that Twitter is penalizing everyone with this change is like a manager taking away work-from-home privileges from the whole team because one person abuses it,” she told Marketing Land. “All brands shouldn’t be punished for a few bad apples that are misusing the functionality.”

Associations that manage a number of social media accounts across differing platforms might feel the same way in the wake of the various changes announced by Facebook and Twitter.

(renzzo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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