Facebook shutting down a key path Obama used to reach voters

by - November 18, 2014

Then in the spring of 2014, Facebook — responding to growing privacy concerns — cracked down on how much information third-party applications could gain about those who installed the apps. “We've heard from people that they're often surprised when a friend shares their information with an app,” wrote Facebook engineering manager Jeffrey Spehar in a blog post. “So we've updated Facebook Login so that each person decides what information they want to share about themselves, including their friend list.” Today, when Facebook users choose to share their friend list with an app, only those friends who also use the app become visible, Facebook spokeswoman Tera Randall told Yahoo News. The changes went into effect for new apps on April 30, and existing apps were given a year before the change applied to them. (In technical terms, what Facebook is doing is changing its Graph application programming interface, or API, as well as the terms of service for app developers.) What this means in practice is that a group like Ready for Hillary, the grass-roots network of supporters for a Clinton presidential run, has been able to use targeted sharing over the past year. That means it has the Facebook friend lists of all the people who’ve installed Ready for Hillary’s app on the social network. But when the API and terms-of-service changes become permanent for all apps, Ready for Hillary — as well as any campaign that has bought its voter information — won’t be able to keep up to date with its supporters’ most recent lists of friends, and will learn nothing about the Facebook friends of new supporters. Facebook’s change becomes permanent on April 30, 2015.

Source: Facebook shutting down a key path Obama used to reach voters - Yahoo News

When the Obama campaign created a Facebook-based app in 2012 that would scour users' friend lists to figure out who most needed to be contacted prior to Election Day (your friends in Florida and Ohio, for example), privacy groups were not excited about it. The app compared friend lists from Facebook to publicly available voter lists, which, Electronic Privacy Information Center associate Director Lillie Coney told the National Journal, "widely crosses the line" of protecting privacy. (That Florida friend could be a non-voter because of a prior felony, for example, which he'd rather you not know about.) News broke Monday that Facebook would turn off the key function that made the Obama app work. (It had been announced by Facebook in the Spring.) No longer will campaigns be able to skim your friend lists as that app did, a development that will make relationship mapping by campaigns slightly less easy than it was two years ago — but not impossible. Facebook has proven the utility of online social networks in increasing turnout. It just prefers campaigns to use its data in ways that help its bottom line.

Source: The (increasingly) complicated relationship between Facebook and politics - The Washington Post

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