• Sudel Retief

Social media monitoring changes explained

The stage was set for impending change at the annual Facebook conference in April 2019. “We’re in the midst of a real shift in how we interact online… Previously, posts were shared openly online, with the aim to reach as many people as we could in our network and reveal more about ourselves each day. But now, we need that sense of intimacy more than ever…privacy gives us the freedom to be ourselves,” said Mark Zuckerburg.”

In response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to strengthen the protection of personal data and privacy Facebook has now rolled out big changes with the company’s focus shifting to community and privacy.

Do you know how the social media monitoring landscape has changed?

Earlier this month Facebook disabled all social media monitoring companies' APIs as they reviewed each Facebook Partner’s compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Monitoring companies had to make changes to their sites to comply before the access was restored. Uncertainty just about gave way to panic as monitoring companies awaited the outcome of their reviews. After a roller coaster month we can now share with you how the changes affect the ability to monitor Facebook (and Instagram).

The most crucial change for all monitoring partners was the removal of actual posts from the Facebook API data stream as this was interpreted not compliant with the stricter privacy regulations. The ability to view the posts that matched keywords/hashtags in a search query has therefor been removed. Instead of seeing a relevant post that includes a keyword/hashtag only metadata of the post is now allowed to be shown. Sentiment, location, reach, engagement etc. related to a keyword/hashtag will be provided by Facebook, but not the text of the post or the Facebook/Instagram user name. The monitoring of public pages (that was available after Cambridge Analytica) has also now been disabled. However, administrators of pages will still be able to monitor keyword/hashtags on these pages, and comments are included in the monitoring.

What do we know for sure?

Although the GDPR only applies to people located in the EU and all companies that process the personal data of people residing in the European Union, Facebook has reluctantly pledged to offer these privacy controls globally. The GDPR restricts the way businesses collect, store and export people’s personal data.

A lot has been said about the USA’s reluctance to adopt the same comprehensive consumer data privacy laws as the EU since the GDPR came into effect in May 2018. Yesterday, in an open letter to the American Congress, 51 top CEOs in the United States requested swift passage of new federal privacy legislation to establish a stable policy environment by replacing the growing number of competing state data privacy laws that govern the way corporations can use, share and monetize personal information.

There is definitely a sense of growing urgency around the call for federal privacy legislation in America. The big event that is coming up, of course, is the rolling out of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in January 2020. At that time, California will have the strictest privacy laws in the nation, and since many of the top tech companies are based in California (i.e. Silicon Valley and Palo Alto), the CCPA is seen as potentially having the greatest impact on tech firms such as Google and Facebook.

From wherever you look, the future definitely is private.

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