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Facebook's new Graph API is holding our data to ransom

It’s now a few months since Facebook introduced the new Graph API that prevents software developers from displaying the Facebook stream for their customers. It’s time we set the record straight on why this has happened.

The issue, put simply, is that developers now need a coding permission from Facebook called ‘read_stream’ to display Facebook posts in their products.

Whilst this sounds quite straightforward, the problem is that Facebook is really using reserving ‘read_stream’ permissions for its own siloed purposes – i.e. to keep control of the information it knows about you and your connections.

Of course, Facebook will tell us that the migration towards the new Graph API and the silos and barriers within it is all about safety and privacy improvements for users´ data sovereignty. Forgive me, but that’s complete nonsense. The reality is that Facebook and others like LinkedIn are closing and controlling access to more areas in their APIs for one reason only: to extract maximum profit from our data, and to do so exclusively. That’s their business model, and they’re not going to change it for anyone.

I find it very cynical that Facebook is covering itself by telling us all – as customers – that they’re simply tightening up on privacy for our benefit. Sorry Mr Zuckerberg, but that argument simply doesn’t hold water. After all, who actually owns the data that we produce and submit about ourselves to internet service providers – us, or the likes of Mark Zuckerberg? I’m afraid most of us know the answer without even having to ask.

Here’ s another pretty important question: with the way things are going with APIs and the ways in which they’re being used for self-serving corporate aims, are we ever going to get the open and free Internet we deserve? Unless something changes soon, I fear not. It’s very worrying for the future of the Internet if these private APIs become more prevalent than their open counterparts.

Open APIs are essential fuel for innovation on the Internet. Closed or siloed APIs, on the other hand, are holding our data to ransom – they take it of our hands, put it in the control of people we shouldn’t trust, and we’re only ever going to get control back for some kind of price (you can be sure Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest will see to that!).

Rafael Laguna is CEO of Open-Xchange.