Архив метки: Wall Street Journal

Facebook staff discussed selling API access to apps in 2012-2014

Following a flopped IPO in 2012, Facebook desperately brainstormed new ways to earn money. An employee of unknown rank sent an internal email suggesting Facebook charge developers $250,000 per year for access to its platform APIs for making apps that can ask users for access to their data. Employees also discussed offering Tinder extended access to users’ friends’ data that was being removed from the platform in exchange for Tinder’s trademark on “Moments”, which Facebook wanted to use for a photo sharing app it later launched. Facebook decided against selling access to the API, and did not strike a deal with Tinder or other companies including Amazon and Royal Bank Of Canada mentioned in employee emails.
The discussions were reported by the Wall Street Journal as being part of a sealed court document its reporters had reviewed from a lawsuit by bikini photo finding app developer Six4Three against Facebook alleging anti-competitive practices in how it changed the platform in 2014 to restrict access to friends’ data through the platform.
The biggest question remaining is how high in rank the employees who discussed these ideas were. If the ideas were seriously considered by high-ranking executives, especially CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the revelation could contradict the company’s long-running philosophy on not selling data access. Zuckerberg told congress in April that “I can’t be clearer on this topic: We don’t sell data.” If the discussion was between low-level employees, it may have been little more than an off-hand suggestion as Facebook was throwing ideas against the wall, and may have been rejected or ignored by higher-ups. But either way, now that the discussion has leaked, it could validate the public’s biggest fears about Facebook and whether it’s a worthy steward of our personal data.
An employee emailed others about the possibility of removing platform API access “in one-go to all apps that don’t spend… at least $250k a year to maintain access to the data”, the document shows. Facebook clarified to TechCrunch that these discussions were regarding API access, and not selling data directly to businesses. The fact that the discussions were specifically about API access, which Facebook continues to give away for free to developers, had not been previously reported.

Facebook provided this full statement to TechCrunch:
“As we’ve said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context. Evidence has been sealed by a California court so we are not able to disprove every false accusation. That said, we stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience. To be clear, Facebook has never sold anyone’s data. Our APIs have always been free of charge and we have never required developers to pay for using them, either directly or by buying advertising.”
A half decade-later, with the world’s will turned against Facebook, the discussions of selling data access couldn’t come at a worse time for the company. Even if quickly aborted, the idea could now stoke concerns that Facebook has too much power and too much of our personal information. While the company eventually found other money-makers and became highly profitable, the discussions illuminate how Facebook could potentially exploit people’s data more aggressively if it deemed it necessary.

UK parliament seizes cache of internal Facebook documents to further privacy probe

Facebook staff discussed selling API access to apps in 2012-2014

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DMD Panorama Opens API To Power Panoramic Photos In Any App

dmd panorama

It’s a strange thing to hear from the co-founder and CEO of a photo startup, but DMD Panorama‘s Elie-Gregoire Khoury tells me that panoramic photos will become “a commodity at the end of the day.” That doesn’t mean it’s time to get out of the photo business — instead, Khoury wants to see panoramas become a standard feature in a wide range of websites and apps, the way that regular photos are now.

And if Khoury has his way, that will all happen through DMD’s new API.

Since launching in June 2011 on the iPhone, DMD Panorama has been downloaded 4.5 million times, Khoury says. His aim was to build the fastest, easiest way to take panoramic photos, and he may have succeeded — this Wall Street Journal article, for example, describes the app as “the easiest-to-use panoramic picture app on the iPhone.”

I was definitely impressed when I tried the app out for myself. To take a panoramic picture, you just activate the camera and move the phone sideways, bringing together the yin and yang signs on your screen. The process is only slightly more complicated and time-consuming than taking a normal photo.

DMD Panorama was built by a five-person team in Lebanon. Khoury says the country’s infrastructure presented a few challenges — like only six hours of electricity per day and a 2 gigabyte monthly download cap on the office Internet connection — but the company succeeded in making hit app, and it raised angel funding from investors including early Googler Georges Harik and the Berytech Fund.

Now Khoury is hoping to enlist app developers to use DMD’s free API. Ultimately, Khoury wants DMD to power the photo-taking experience in any app where panoramic photos might be useful — for example, Khoury suggests that DMD could bring panoramic photos into a postcard app, or it could help people take panoramic pictures to show off their homes in rental apps like Airbnb.

Users will need to have DMD Panorama installed in order to take advantage of the integration, but once they do, the goal is to create a seamless experience between DMD and integrated apps. So when using another app, users could hit a “panorama” button (or whatever) at the appropriate moment, which would either open DMD Panorama or prompt them to install it. They take the photo in DMD, then they’re returned to the original app.

Khoury says he’s testing the API out with a few partners before opening it up more broadly, so interested developers should email api (at) DerManDar (dot) com.

DMD Panorama Opens API To Power Panoramic Photos In Any App