News

POV: Facebook – F8 Developer Conference 2018

Background:

Facebook hosted its annual global developer conference F8 in San Jose this week. The tech community gathered for two full days of sessions, workshops, product demos, and ‘facetime’ with Facebook’s product experts. Here are the most notable updates.

Details and Implications:

Privacy:

Privacy was a hot topic following on from the Cambridge Analytica fall-out. To place additional safeguards around user privacy and data, Facebook announced that it’s re-opening its App Review Process. Depending on the level of API permissions requested, developers and businesses may be required to verify their business and sign a supplemental contract introducing additional provisions around data usage.

Privacy Controls are now easier to find thanks to a redesigned privacy settings menu. Facebook introduced Clear History (Facebook’s version of clearing cookies) which allows users to see information about the apps and websites they’ve interacted with on-platform and remove this information from their account. Facebook is also building a setting that will allow users to completely turn off the ability for Facebook to track their browsing activity; the trade-off is less relevant ads and a less personalized experience, which calls into question how brands (large & small) who rely heavily on the platform’s reach and targeting will react.

Last month, Facebook announced it would restrict information that an app could request without a Login Review to just a person's name, profile picture and email address. From May 1, public profiles will only comprise of a person's name, picture and user ID. All other permissions will require Login Review - including age, gender, check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups.

Notable Products & Updates:

Dating Profiles: Probably the most shocking for those in the room was the announcement of dating profiles, a new feature for dating and finding relationships on the Facebook app [more info].

Sharing to Stories: Third party apps (starting with Spotify & GoPro) can now enable sharing directly from their apps to Facebook and Instagram stories, making sharing music that much easier [more info]. 

Messenger: A closed beta for AR Camera Effects for Messenger was announced, bringing opportunity for artists, brands and developers to create AR effects (bunny ears for everyone!) [more info]. In addition to Messenger’s new look, through AI and machine learning, ‘M Suggestions’ now provides suggestions for translations, a first step in bridging language barriers all over the world amongst people and brands [more info].

Watch Party: Allows group admins to pick any public video and show it to their group members at the same time with a comment reel for a shared viewing experience.

Instagram: Announced video chat both in one to one and group message settings. AR Camera Effects are also coming to Instagram Stories in a closed beta (more bunny ears!) [more info].

Facebook Analytics: Introduced new features designed to be cross-channel, people-based and productivity-focused. ‘Journeys’ is the new tool designed to help advertisers better understand the impact of different channels and devices and when/how customers convert. A streamlined interface on Facebook Analytics Mobile App will enable advertisers to review metrics in an overview tab, view reports, create dashboards and receive push notifications. Automated Insights boasts new features that quickly identify paths to purchase and give directional insights on audiences that are less/more likely to convert [more info].

Summary:

At its core F8 is for developers but Facebook’s mission of (securely) bringing the world closer together was loud and clear at this year’s conference. The gap of time and distance is closing with new forms of communication making connection easier and simpler. Fostering old connections and gaining new ones is more pervasive on the platform than ever before. Brands should be present and connect at various touchpoints whether there’s a physical product to be sold or not, transactions don’t just happen at the cash register anymore.

Further Reading:

F8 Site (videos or presentations) / Techcrunch / Engadget