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Facebook Releases Graph API v2.1 and Updates Platform Policies to Forbid Like-gating

by Sergio De Simone on Aug 14, 2014 |

New Facebook Graph API v2.1 incorporates several commonly requested features that build on the changes in v2.0, says Facebook. The company has also sparked a certain amount of reactions announcing changes to its platform policies that prohibit well-established like-gating practices.

According to Facebook, the new Graph API v2.1 is aimed at increasing consistency and simplicity for developers and includes several new features, including the following:

  • Pages are able to mention other Pages in posts published via the API.
  • /friends edge on the User object now provides access to total friend count.
  • The root node responses will always be a JSON object.
  • A new app_insights edge on the Application object provides access to the data displayed in the new App Insights.
  • Field expansion syntax is now more concise.
  • A new URL node makes it easier to access Open Graph and Share metadata for that URL.

As announced at f8 2014, Facebook provides a 2-year stability guarantee for Core APIs, which include the Login dialog, Share dialog, Requests dialog, and Like button among others. In line with this, v2.0 will be deprecated on August 7, 2016, when all apps will automatically be upgraded to v2.1. New apps will by default use the latest Graph API version. To upgrade existing apps to v2.1, mobile developers can download Facebook latest iOS and Android SDKs. Web developers should declare v2.1 in the version property when calling the init() method of the JavaScript SDK and specify v2.1 in URLs when calling the Graph API.

Along with the new Graph API version, Facebook also announced two changes to its Platform policies and required all developers to update their apps by November 5, 2014 in order to comply with them:

  • In-app charges must be disclosed in app descriptions.
  • Incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page is now prohibited.

The latter change effectively rules out the practice known as like-gating, which means forcing a Facebook user to like a Page before they can see content on a particular custom tab or application. As a means to enforce this change, new Facebook apps won't get the liked boolean in the signed_request object on pages. Furthermore, in 90 days time this value will always be set to true for existing apps.

Forbidding like-gating has sparked a certain amount of reaction in the comments to Facebook's announcement. Several commenters, including Lindsey Hall and Carl Bossmann, stressed how this kind of changes is driving customers to focus on Twitter and is effectively favouring businesses with larger advertising budgets. Blavier Leon, on the other hand, pointed out that the like system was never meant to allow those kinds of practice.

Simon Cross, product manager at Facebook, clarified in a reply to a comment, that it is still possible to incentivize people to login to an app, or reward someone when their friends logs into an app as the result of an invite they sent. Also, rewarding for sharing on Twitter, Google+ & Pinterest should still be allowed, since those are separate social platforms, according to commenter Akash Malik.

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