Digital Dash: Facebook’s data disaster & more

1. Not again! Facebook owns up to another data disaster

If there was one thing Facebook didn’t need right now it was this. Another major data scare – less than 7 months after that Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The company has been on a major grovelling mission since March, desperate to win back the trust of its billions-strong user base. But a data breach revelation from last week has thrown a pretty sizeable spanner in the works.

Here’s what happened, in a nutshell:

  • A security issue was discovered affecting almost 50 million accounts
  • Attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As” – a feature that lets you see what your profile looks like to others
  • “Access tokens” (equivalent of digital keys that keep you logged in) were stolen and used to take over people’s accounts

Facebook responded by apologising and resetting access tokens of affected accounts to protect their security. It did the same for another 40 million accounts that had been subject to a “View As” look-up in the past year.

In total, 90 million people had to log back into Facebook and any apps using their Facebook login.

Crucially, the company claimed that doing this kept all user information intact.

A notification also appeared in-app to explain the situation. If you didn’t see this, it’s unlikely you were affected.

Photo: Facebook

In an updated statement, Facebook said it conducted an investigation, which found no evidence that the attackers accessed any third-party apps using Facebook Login.

All in all, the ramifications of this breach – in terms of user data – seem to thankfully be much less severe than we’ve seen in the past. Right now, it looks more scare than scandal.

But regardless, this incident could dent people’s confidence in the company just as it was perhaps beginning to win many back round. Plus, if rumours are to be believed, there could be a hefty fine on the way too; the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has opened a formal investigation into the breach.


2. Pinterest adds “More Ideas” tab for endless exploration

Have you ever jumped on Pinterest to have a quick browse and next thing you know it’s 4.5 hours later?

The platform is the place to go when you need ideas or inspiration, and with 175 billion pins to explore it’s easy to see how you can lose half a day without even realising.

Well, watch out folks because Pinterest has a new feature that wants to steal even more of your spare time.

From now on, you’ll see a “More Ideas” tab sitting towards the top of each of your boards and sections.

Clicking on it will reveal recommendations to fit your theme (determined presumably by keywords and visual recognition) with “creative twists along the way”.

Photo: Pinterest

This is a really intuitive addition from Pinterest, and for users, I’m sure it will prove a handy new discovery tool.

From a business perspective, we’ll be really interested to see what impact it has on results such as reach and engagement. I can see how it could be really valuable – especially as featured pins are so heavily tailored to each niche interest.

Along with the update came another new feature “Sections to try”. This will suggest sections for you, which you can add simply by clicking the plus icon next to each.

Photo: Pinterest


3. Facebook upgrades bots with new Personas API for developers

Generally speaking, Facebook bots are great and have enhanced the speed, coverage and effectiveness of customer service.

But bots do have some limitations.

For example, any bot’s ability to provide help is limited by its pre-programmed knowledge (or AI for the more advanced). In any event, there are times when a real-life human needs to step in – and this can be tricky to manage.

Yes, the bot can request someone’s details so a rep can follow up. It’s also possible to interrupt auto-responses with personalised messages.

But sometimes, it’s quicker and better for the customer to know their query is being handled by a person (or at least think it is).

To streamline the process, Facebook is introducing the “Personas API”, which will allow business reps to intervene in bot-led conversations when needed. See below:

Photo: Facebook

You can see that multiple agents can be introduced into a thread to help deal with an enquiry.

Every message from a new team member comes with a profile photo, name and annotation above the message to state which page (business) they belong to.

To complicate things slightly, the personas can be backed by a bot. But even in this case, the aim is to signify that the customer has been passed to a representative.

It’s not 100% clear yet if/how the Personas API ties in with third-party bot development software but we’ll definitely be looking into it.


4. LinkedIn tweaks sponsored content to get you more quality clicks

All marketers want social media advertising to yield impressive stats. High reach, impressions, engagement, link clicks etc. are all common KPIs.

But a huge consideration – that often gets underplayed – is the quality of the users behind those metrics.

There’s a lot that can be done business-side to ensure the right people are seeing content and being driven to your site (let’s chat about funnels sometime soon?).

But there are also steps that can be taken by the platform itself. And that’s exactly what LinkedIn is turning its attention to this week.

The main change applies to ads with longer intro copy that extends below the fold.

It used to be the case that clicking “see more” would load a landing page or open a lead gen form. You would get charged for this click.

But from now on, clicks on “see more” will expand the caption to full-length and will be free.

LinkedIn believes this, plus other coming changes will improve ROI, although it warned that the update could see click-through rates drop and CPC rise.

I’m actually super happy they’ve said this because it’s something we constantly preach. You should always be willing to take a hit on quantity for a guaranteed improvement in quality when it comes to sales.

On a side note, I don’t know if it’s just me but I think clicking “see more” on a cut off caption should always serve to reveal the full version rather than redirecting you somewhere else…

Anyway, here’s what the changes look like in action:

Photo: LinkedIn


5. Facebook to reward most engaged followers with a “Top Fan” badge

Facebook is now rolling out a test that began back in March, which will award the most engaged page users with a “Top Fan” badge.

The star-shaped badge will appear next to the names of a creator’s most loyal fans whenever they interact with page content.

Photo: Tech Crunch

Only the page’s most active fans will earn the status, with actions like watching videos, reacting, commenting or sharing content all factoring in.

Not every page will be eligible to activate the Top Fans feature though – you’ll need to have a community of at least 10,000.

If you already have over that amount, you can opt in through settings via the video template.

The feature will be a good way for page owners to detect and potentially reward their most engaged fans.

Plus, it’s possible Facebook has bigger plans for it. They could go down the monetisation route – like YouTube has – where fans can buy badges as well as earn them.