Facebook glitch leaves publishers with data shortage
Publishers are no longer receiving data from Facebook's Graph API feature due to a technical glitch, and the company has not confirmed when the issue will be fixed. The tool gives information on how users are engaging with content, including the number of shares.
Some online publishers and developers were surprised in recent weeks when Facebook seemingly cut off access to information they use to help gauge the performance of content across the social network.
Data wasn't being received from Facebook’s “Graph API” feature, which publishers use to help understand how links to articles are being distributed and engaged with across Facebook. Some publishers also use the information to display a counter on their website pages that shows the number of shares links to their articles, videos and other content receive across Facebook.
After being contact by The Wall Street Journal about publishers’ concerns, Facebook said the halted data was an unintended glitch, introduced as part of an update on Aug. 8 to “application programming interface” technology, through which Facebook shares data with third-party developers and publishers.
“We enacted a change that impacted the way a handful of third-party services deliver share count data to publishers. A fix is currently underway to ensure any affected developers can continue retrieving share count data as they had before,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.
Facebook didn’t specify when the problem would be resolved.
Many publishers and media companies now rely heavily on Facebook to distribute links to their content, and the glitch was a reminder of how much they rely on the social network for information about how it performs. Without data from Facebook, they have little insight into how their website content is being shared across the social network, and whether it is resonating with readers and viewers.
Some publishers have expressed concerns that Facebook will begin to limit the amount of data it shares with them about links back to their websites and instead provide more robust data only for content posted natively. That could potentially push media companies to publish more of their content directly to Facebook through initiatives such as Instant Articles.
Facebook recently stopped accepting new domains for a separate tool known as Domain Insights, for example, through which it shares information with publishers about traffic it sends back to their websites.
A Facebook spokesman said that even though it will not be accepting new sites for the Domain Insights tool, the company is looking at building out an alternative solution for publishers.
Rival social networking service Twitter faced criticism from some publishers and developers when it removed access to data about share counts across its own platform last year.
Twitter said it removed the feature for technical reasons and because it no longer wished to dedicate the resources necessary to support it.
(Courtesy of the WSJ)