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Does Facebook now embody maturity?

Matt Kapko | May 6, 2014
An estimated 1,500 developers gathered last week at F8, Facebook's first conference in almost three years, to learn about the latest updates to social network's platform. The atmosphere throughout the event was that of a very grown-up and increasingly serious business.

Login Gains Privacy Controls and Anonymity

Changes to Facebook's login product are where the needs and wants of users are most visibly outweighing those of developers.

Now when users click on the "log in with Facebook" button, they'll be able to select one-by-one whether that app can have access to their public profile, friend list, email address, birthday, likes, and the permission to post to their account.

"People want more control over how they share information, especially in how they use their apps," Zuckerberg says. "We know some people are scared of pressing this blue button& We don't ever want anyone to be surprised about how they're sharing on Facebook."

With relatively few changes being made to the look and feel of Facebook overall, the most surprising development is the new "log in anonymously" product. Just like it sounds, users can simply anonymously log in to new mobile apps without sharing any of their Facebook data with the developer.

Not everyone was cheering the move at F8 though. In the halls developers voiced their concerns about the potential data vacuum that anonymous login could create, thereby limiting their ability to build valuable databases of their users.

Solidifying Power in Incremental Steps

"It's a win for Facebook but not really a win for anybody else. Facebook didn't say that they're going to not collect your data if want to login," Seth Shafer, research analyst at SNL Kagan tells CIO.com. "They're going to collect your data, they're still going to use it and target you. It's just possible that it might mean less data for developers on their side of things. It's really hard to see how that's a step forward."

Shafer and others understand Facebook's assertion that users are less comfortable sharing information with mobile apps when they're trying to get over the initial hurdle. "Some people don't want to log in and use their actual credentials and share data until they've kicked the tires on it," he says.

"You could make that argument that in the broader scheme developers lose some data on users but then they gain more engagement, more usage, more downloads when people are more willing to try it out," says Shafer. "I didn't think they were being overly generous by saying 'look we respect privacy, here it is.' Well kind of, sort of."

Still, these changes appear to incremental and small enough to avoid the backlash that usually followed every Facebook update in the past. Signaling perhaps the ultimate level of maturity in the social media space, Facebook is now solidifying its power as the arbiter of what flies and what doesn't between its developers and users. It is also offering a slate of new tools for developers like deeper links between mobile apps and a mobile like button.

 

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