Digital Advertising Industry News


Facebook in 2018: 4 Fundamental Changes

April 12, 2018 Kathy Bryan

This is the second article within the “Facebook in 2018” series inclusive of top issues, fundamental changes and expectations for the year. Click here to see a list of the other posts within this series.

Facing highly publicized issues related to discrimination, data sharing, election interference and privacy concerns, Facebook has been forced to make dramatic changes to their platform. From tighter privacy settings and reduced standard data access to changed targeting capabilities and advertiser transparency requirements, the sweeping changes have implications on how users and advertisers engage with the social platform.

Facebook Change #1: Tighter User-Controlled Privacy

Facebook has long offered robust tools for users to control privacy settings, but they have not made it easy to find these tools. And the desired user protection was not always available.

Last month, Facebook announced they are simplifying and centralizing privacy settings to make it easier for users to change how much personal information they share. Wired magazine offers a complete, step-by-step guide to these tools.

Now all accessible on a single screen, Facebook privacy settings have been cleaned to make it clear what information can and is being shared with third-party apps. Facebook is also providing a tool that allows users to access and manage their platform interactions (posts, reactions, comments, searches, etc.) with the ability to delete anything from their timeline or profile.

A “Protecting Your Information” notice is being sent to every Facebook user to help each one see what apps they use and what information they’ve shared. The short report will include a shortcut for users to effortlessly shut off apps individually or completely turn off all third-party app access.

Facebook has also hinted at an “unsend” feature within Facebook Messenger, suggesting it may launch within the next few months.

Complying with GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect May 25, protecting the personal data of European Union (EU) citizens by ensuring companies gain explicit consent for data collection and sharing. Many consumer groups have asked Facebook to use GDPR as their baseline standard. On the topic, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has made confusing (possibly conflicting) statements about Facebook’s plans.

Facebook Change #2: Limiting App Access to Data

Facebook is now allowing third-party apps to access just the name, profile photo and email address of their users. Developers seeking to obtain more information must request approval from Facebook and sign a contract imposing strict data management requirements. In addition, developers will no longer have access to user data if the app has not been used within the last three months. When it comes to friend data, apps can only see it if both friends have provided access to the app. And the feature that allowed users to be searched by phone number or email has been shut down.

Facebook recently paused their app review process while they implement new changes related to data access. “To maintain the trust people place in Facebook when they share information,” explained Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships, “we are making some updates to the way our platform works. We know these changes are not easy, but we believe these updates will help mitigate any breach of trust with the broader developer ecosystem.” As part of this project, Facebook is investigating every app that had access to large amounts of data prior to their 2014 platform change. And they’re auditing all apps with suspicious activity. In the meantime, Facebook is developing a process to inform users if an app they gave access to was removed for data misuse or any other reason.

Facebook Change #3: Targeting Capability Modifications

Facebook announced a sunset for their Partner Categories program, which was launched in 2013 as a tool to help advertisers identify and target unique audience groups based on a combination of first-party (advertiser), second-party (Facebook) and third-party (external source) data. “We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” reads a March 28 statement within the Facebook Newsroom. “This product enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.”

Through relationships with third-party brokers, including Acxiom, Experian, Oracle and Quantium, Facebook has been aggregating demographic and behavioral data, including purchase history to help advertisers better target their audiences. Facebook is now permanently ending its relationship with these third-party data providers who provide an estimated one-half of Facebook’s 1,200 targeting criteria. Facebook will still utilize third-party data providers to measure ad performance and provide metrics, but they’re conducting a review of those ongoing relationships.

With third-party data sources removed, advertisers now must rely only on their own data and Facebook collected data from user actions, including liked posts and access granted through opt-in settings. Facebook has stated they will prevent unrelated companies from sharing data by banning the use of data across multiple business accounts, but there are no details on how this action will be thwarted.

Facebook Change #4: More Transparency Regarding Advertisers & Influencers

“We’ve always had terms in place to ensure that advertisers have consent for data they use,” stated a Facebook spokesperson when commenting on their data use policies. But Facebook never enforced their rules, instead believing fear of suspension from Facebook or legal repercussions would discourage infractions.

Now, Facebook is launching a certification tool requiring marketers to prove, for all data imported into Facebook, the legitimacy of data access and use, including proper consent. According to Facebook, they are making the data certification process “much more prominent” while also educating advertisers on appropriate use of data.

Strong Verification for Political Advertisers

Additional verification will be mandated for political advertisers on Facebook. In addition, Facebook will provide incremental transparency with political ads labeled, including a note regarding who is paying for their promotion. A searchable archive of past political ads is also being created.


New Verification Process for Large Pages

In a move to limit or prevent the spread of fake news, managers of large Facebook pages are now required to verify their identities, with government-issued documents, and physical locations to which Facebook can mail postcards with verification codes. According to Facebook, this new policy applies only to pages with big followings (with no minimum fan base metric yet published) or pages with identified signals of fraudulent behavior.

In the future, Facebook may launch a tool that shows all ads a page is running. This functionality is in beta in Canada right now, with plans to expand later this year.

Lastly, Facebook plans to be aggressive with their removal of fake accounts. They’ve been using artificial intelligence to support this task since 2016, and they’re in the process of boosting their people-based security and review team by one-third: from 15,000 to 20,000.

Facebook has made a lot of changes recently, but we anticipate more to come. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts focused on expectations for the remainder 2018 and a recap of Mark Zuckerberg’s trip to Capitol Hill.

Are you concerned with how Facebook changes may impact your campaigns? Contact Team DMS to schedule a call. Our social advertising experts can help you navigate the landscape to ensure your campaigns continue to perform.


Click on the links below to read the other articles within the Facebook in 2018 series:

Click the link below to download the Facebook eBook: 

Facebook in 2018: A Recap of Recent Facebook Trials in the Media & on Capitol Hill. 

"Facebook in 2018" Series Sources

About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Media Solutions (DMS). In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS, the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers.

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