Meta Cuts Third-Party Access to Facebook Groups, Confuses Developers and Customers | Tech Crunch

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The recent surprise announcement that Meta will soon be shutting down its Facebook Groups API left some businesses and social media marketers confused.

On January 23, Meta announced the release of its Facebook Graph API v19.0, which included news that the company was deprecating the existing Facebook Groups API. The latter, used by developers and businesses to schedule posts to Facebook groups, will be removed in 90 days, Meta said. It also includes all the permissions and reviewable properties associated with the API, it says.

Meta explained that a major use case for the API is a feature that allows developers to reply privately in Facebook groups. For example, a small business that wants to send a single message to a person who posted in their Facebook group or commented on the group can send a message through the API. However, Meta said another change in the new v19.0 API enables this feature without requiring the Groups API.

But developers told TechCrunch that the API shutdown could cause problems for companies that provide solutions to customers who want to schedule and automate their social media posts. For example, Adam Peterson, CEO of VipeCloud, which offers a suite of tools for scheduling social media posts, explained that the closure of the API would have a “noticeable impact” on his business, as 8% of his total revenue was on the cutting block. He claimed that his company was servicing around 5,000 Facebook accounts, mostly owned by women entrepreneurs.

These customers rely on VipeCloud's access to Facebook APIs to publish publicly to their Facebook Pages, but post privately to groups to communicate with their team. Private groups are being used as a Slack alternative by these small businesses, he says.

“Every single one of our customers is weird,” Peterson says.

Other customers of the Groups API may rely on automations scheduled by business agency partners, some of which will be disproportionately affected by the API shutdown.

Peterson explains that clients often rely on agencies to handle various aspects of their postings, such as team building or team motivation. “Those agencies, it's their whole business. This is their livelihood,” he said.

The move also affects VipeCloud's competitors, often non-venture-funded companies that build market-specific services and whose revenue can range from single-digit millions to low double-digit millions.

“Some of these other companies — they're going to get killed,” Peterson noted. “And even if we compete with them, it's never fun to watch. You'd rather win a service or a product or whatever,” he continues. “It's a real-time platform risk.”

A company called PostMyParty, which helps social sellers and others schedule and automate online parties, said the closure of the API would put the company out of business.

“I will lose seven years of work and 10,000 customers,” owner Daniel Berg told TechCrunch. “Multi-million dollar loss. “Let's have an impact on all our customers who rely on our software,” he said.

PostMyParty is used by health and fitness coaches who do online boot camps in Facebook groups, work-at-home moms who engage in social sales, and small micro-businesses, including coaching groups or customer groups, Burge said.

The founder pointed out that this is not the first time Meta has done this.

“A few years ago (Meta) abruptly ended their Events API with zero notice,” Burge said. “We came in just one day and everything broke, we had thousands of support requests open from our customers and it almost destroyed our business at the time.”

What's more, the developers told us that Meta's motivation behind the API shutdown is unclear. On the one hand, Facebook groups don't generate ad revenue, and the API's shutdown leaves developers with no alternative. However, Meta does not clarify whether that is true or not. Instead, Meta's blog post only mentions one use case that will be addressed by the new v.19.0 API.

Maurice W. Evans, Meta Certified Community Manager, believes the move poses challenges for small businesses, developers and digital markets, but it represents a “key change in Meta's operating philosophy.”

“Removing third-party access to Facebook groups could significantly change the digital landscape, creating both obstacles and opportunities for community managers and businesses alike. As a Meta Certified Community Manager, I've seen firsthand the value these tools bring to fostering vibrant, engaged online communities. This change will drive adaptability in our strategies and underlines the need for innovation,” Evans told TechCrunch.

Elsewhere in social media, website design firm Archer Web Design He called the news of the API's closure “devastatingand “Businesses and social media marketers will be thrown into the stone age with this one!” That's what X, wrote in a post on Twitter earlier.

On Meta's forum for developers, one developer said they were “very surprised” by the company's announcement, noting that their app relies on the Groups API and won't necessarily work during the shutdown.

Others were disappointed that the meta didn't make it clear whether posting to groups would carry a page access token or not, as the policy stated in the announcement only applies to those posting private replies, not posting to the group. as a whole. Burge, for example, wonders if the whole thing is some kind of messaging mistake — something like Meta might have forgotten to include the part that wanted to notice what its new solution was.

However, there is concern that Meta is prioritizing the interests of developers as it recently shut down the developer bug portal.

Representatives from Facebook did not reply to the developers' comments on its forums (as of writing), leaving everyone in the dark.

Another developer on the forum lamented, “This affects my ongoing projects and projects that will be launched soon. I don't know what to do. “

This story is evolving. Meta asked for comment and we'll update when we know more.

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