Tag Archive | "Developers"

Roughly 100 Developers May Have Improperly Accessed FaceBook Groups Data

The last few weeks have seen the news go from bad to worse for Facebook, especially on the privacy front. Now the company is admitting that roughly 100 developers may have improperly accessed Groups member data.

In April 2018, Facebook made changes to the Groups API to limit what information administrators could access. Prior to the change, admins could see identifiable information, such as member names and profile pictures. Following the change, group members would have to opt-in for an admin to see that information—at least in theory.

According to Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s Platform Partnerships Head, an ongoing review discovered that some 100 developers had retained access to member information. Papamiltiadis said the company had taken steps to address the issues.

“We have since removed their access. Today we are also reaching out to roughly 100 partners who may have accessed this information since we announced restrictions to the Groups API, although it’s likely that the number that actually did is smaller and decreased over time. We know at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days. Although we’ve seen no evidence of abuse, we will ask them to delete any member data they may have retained and we will conduct audits to confirm that it has been deleted.”

The post also made a point of promising that the company would continue to improve moving forward.

“We aim to maintain a high standard of security on our platform and to treat our developers fairly. As we’ve said in the past, the new framework under our agreement with the FTC means more accountability and transparency into how we build and maintain products. As we continue to work through this process we expect to find more examples of where we can improve, either through our products or changing how data is accessed. We are committed to this work and supporting the people on our platform.”

Given the current political climate, with politicians on both sides of the aisle increasingly looking at Facebook as a threat to privacy—and some even calling for its breakup—the company will need to do better to convince authorities and users alike that it can be trusted.

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Google Reportedly Allows App Developers to Read the Private Messages of Gmail Users

A new report from the Wall Street Journal has revealed that third-party app developers have access to the emails of millions of Gmail account holders. Two companies have reportedly even allowed employees to read said emails. While Google claims that these developers have been thoroughly vetted, there are still fears that this could end up as a data breach similar to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gmail users that have signed up for some services, specifically travel and shopping price comparison tools, have agreed to terms and conditions that enabled the developers of this software and services to read their emails.

Gmail’s access settings do allow app developers and data companies to see the user’s emails and the private details that go with it, like the recipient’s address and time stamps. They can actually even view the whole message. And while application does require user consent, the permission form is admittedly vague on letting humans read emails instead of just machines.

These third-party developers claim to only use the information gathered from Gmail account holders for advertising purposes and targeted shopping suggestions. Google asserted that it has extensively vetted these developers, a process that entails checking that the company’s identity is represented by the app, that the data requested is in line with the service it offers, and that its privacy policy clearly states that it will monitor emails.

The Wall Street Journal report mentioned two specific apps that had access to said emails – Edison Software and Return Path. The former reportedly had employees read thousands of emails to assist in the training of its “Smart Reply” feature while the latter also allowed staff to read private messages to help in the development of the company’s software. Both companies said they have permission from users and that their actions were covered in their terms and conditions.

In a blog post, Return Path gave assurances that they “take great care to limit who has access to the data, supervise all access to the data.”

Meanwhile, Edison Software CEO Mikael Berner clarified the context in which their engineers read “a small random sample of de-identified messages” by saying it was for R&D purposes. He also revealed that the company stopped the practice some time ago and that all the data has been expunged “in order to stay consistent with our company’s commitment to achieving the highest standards possible for ensuring privacy.”

It’s not certain yet what kind of blowback the news that Google has allowed third-party developers access to user emails might have on the company. In all likelihood, it will be scrutinized the same way Facebook was after the Cambridge Analytica issue.

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Apple App Store Growing Fast, Paid $20 Billion to App Developers in 2016

The Apple App Store has paid out over $ 20 billion to developers in 2016, which is an increase of over 40% over 2015, according to Apple. They also said that January 1, 2017 had the highest dollar volume of app purchases of any single day in the Apple App Store’s history, with over $ 240 million in sales. Since the App Store launched in 2008, developers have earned over $ 60 billion.

“2016 was a record-shattering year for the App Store, generating $ 20 billion for developers, and 2017 is off to a great start with January 1 as the single biggest day ever on the App Store,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We want to thank our entire developer community for the many innovative apps they have created — which together with our products — help to truly enrich people’s lives.”

Apple also noted that December 2016 was an amazing month for App purchases, hitting over $ 3 billion in sales.

Subscription billings, which became available just this Fall in all categories, are one of the fastest growing segments of app sales. There are over 20,000 apps that can be subscribed to for a monthly fee including popular services such as Netflix, HBO Now, Line, Tinder and MLB.com At Bat. Subscription based apps generated $ 2.7 billion in billings in 2016, up 74% over 2015.

Apple also recently announced a Best of 2016 Music list:

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The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 2.0

Posted by DannyDover

It is my honor and privilege today to introduce the brand-new version of The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet. This free and downloadable document covers all of the important SEO code and best practices that are needed by online marketers and developers.

Benefits and features

  • Save the Google searches for your new inbound visitors: This cheat sheet covers all of the details you would normally spend hours researching online. This leaves you with more time for the important things (like laughing at JennaMarbles or pretending you don’t watch Vine compilations).
  • Available both online and offline: You can store the free downloadable PDF wherever you want. Save a hard drive, kill a tree! (It’s printable.)
  • Updated for the inbound marketer: With new sections like responsive design and rel=”author”, you can uphold your flawless nerd reputation by publicly shaming those who make syntax errors in their code (and are foolish enough not to download this cheat sheet!).

Information covered

If it is important, we have you covered!

Page 1

  • Important HTML Elements
  • HTTP Status Codes
  • Canonicalization
  • URL Best Practices
  • Webmaster Tools

Page 2

  • Robot Control Syntax
  • Important User-agents
  • Sitemap Syntax

Page 3

  • Facebook Open Graph
  • Twitter Cards
  • Google+
  • Google+ Authorship
  • Google+ Publisher

Page 4

  • Targeting Multiple Languages
  • Mobile Web Development (Responsive Design)

Backstory:

It has been five years since I created the first version of this cheat sheet. Frustrated with how hard it was to find technical SEO information, I stayed up an entire night crafting the original resource. Without getting a second opinion, I blindly posted it on the company blog and went into the office.

At the time, I was still establishing my professional self and was an intern at Moz. The company was small, and the future of my unpaid internship was uncertain.

The blog post announcing the new cheat sheet resource went on to become the most popular blog post (as judged by thumbs) in the company’s history (in fact, it still is!). The cheat sheet was heavily distributed on popular sites of the day and drove an incredible amount of much-needed links to the still-developing SEOmoz domain.

The Moz team was super excited about how many people the resource was helping, and I gained some desperately needed clout. When Rand tried to show his excitement over the piece, I learned an incredibly valuable lesson about intra-office communication.

Note to interns everywhere. Don’t actually make vocal sound effects when your get the opportunity to “blow up” your boss’s impromptu pound handshake.

Rand: Great job, Danny! Pound it!

*Reaches out fist in congratulatory manner*

Me: BOOOOM! POW! EXPLOSION!

*Confusion followed by reddened face*… *Saddened apology*

Rand: Erm… good job anyways!

Despite my social mishap :-) , Rand and the team continued supporting me and this resource. Today’s version is better than the original and even more valuable.

Looking back, the Moz team was absolutely fundamental in shaping me into the person I am today. My career at Moz was some of the most important years of my life thus far.

After leaving Moz in early 2011, I used the many habits and skills I learned from the talented team and continued to step up my career.

Thanks to Moz (and partly due to the original version of this cheat sheet), I am now living my ideal lifestyle by pursuing my bucket list full-time. You can read more about my story here.

Thank you!

A very special thanks to Cyrus and Dawn Shepard for making this new resource a reality. Your long hours and persistence have been inspiring. Thanks to the Moz design team for your artful assets and gleeful glamour (those are good things!).

Lastly, thanks to all of you for downloading and making this thing a success. You all rock!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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The New Facebook News Feed: What Users, Businesses, and Developers Need to Know

Yesterday, at an event at their Menlo Park headquarters, Facebook unveiled a radical redesign of their core product: the news feed. Unlike Graph Search or Gifts (two of the last big products that Facebook’s unveiled), the news feed is not an “extra,” if you will, in the film of Facebook. The news feed is the star of the Facebook experience. Sure, whenever Facebook announces a brand new product it’s a big deal, but when Facebook announces changes to the most vital part of the user experience, it’s a massive deal.

“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Thursday’s event. “[And] news feed is one of the most important services that we build.”

“Our goal…is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper.”

Were you ready for a news feed refresh? What are your first impressions? Let us know in the comments.

The new Facebook news feed is “designed to reduce clutter and focus more on stories from the people you care about,” says Facebook. “We’ve completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful.”

And that’s one of the main things that this news feed refresh is all about: an enhanced visual experience. Along with content-specific feeds that give users more freedom and mobile consistency, that makes up the three key points about the new news feed that Facebook hammered home on Thursday. Here’s what you need to know about what’s changing.

A More Visual User Experience

So, what’s going to change for the average user? Quite a bit, actually – both in how it looks and how you actually navigate around the network.

First, the desktop look. It’s cleaner, more visually stunning, and yes, it feels a bit more mobile-inspired. Everything is more photo-oriented, and those photos are given much more prominence inside the news feed. Photos that your friends post are huge, spanning all the way across the feed. Photo albums are also larger. Facebook says that they want to be able to make the story, as it appears in the news feed, more visually indicative of the experience. For instance, this story about a friend going to China gives a big, bold, photo-oriented snapshot of the trip:

And it’s not just photos from friends that are more visual. It’s shared articles, which feature larger images and more information like snippets and author & publication info:

And events:

And links that your friends share, which now feature profile cards on the left-hand side that show you exactly who has shared the same link. You can hover over each friend to see what they said about the link when they shared it:

Stories about your friends making new friends now feature snippets from Timelines:

Check-ins are also more visual with large map images, as is content from third-party sites like Pinterest. Overall, you’re going to see a news feed that doesn’t just highlight images, but is inundated with them. At Thursday’s event, Zuckerberg said that nearly half of the news feed already consists of photos and other visual content – so this redesign is simply an expression of the evolving face of the feed.

New Ways to Navigate

As expected, the new Facebook news feed will also sport content-specific news feeds. You’ll still have the classic news feed as the default, which will combine recent activity with “top posts.” You’ll also still have the opportunity to filter the feed by “most recent,” which will show you everything from both friends and pages in chronological order.

Facebook’s new, hyper-specific news feed options include “all friends,” which shows a stream of all activity from friends (nothing from pages or people that are simply “followed”). There are also specific feeds for photos, music, games, groups, and more.

The old “pages feed” has a new name: “Following.” It will unearth all the posts from pages and people that you follow (no friends).

In other words, Facebook is giving you more options for customizing your news feed experience.

Long story short, Facebook has given users a lot more choice in how they browse content on the site. And the prominent placement of the specific news feeds on the homepage nearly ensures that users are at least tempted to spend more time on the site. By delving into a specific content feeds like “music” or “photos,” users can unearth posts from the deep, dark, cavernous void of Facebook content that’s been cast aside by their ranking algorithms. When there’s more to explore, people typically choose to explore it – at least that’s Facebook’s hope. And more people spending more time on the site means more chances to serve ads.

The third tenet of Facebook’s news feed redesign is mobile consistency – meaning that your experience on the desktop, web, and apps across all platforms should feel fluid. As I mentioned before, the new Facebook desktop experience feels more mobile – at least more streamlined.

All of your Facebook extras, your events, messages, gifts, apps, and more, are now housed on the left-hand side inside cute little icons. Like mobile, this is accessible from anywhere you go on the desktop version. In fact, Facebook made a point at Thursday’s event to say that “now you can get to any page on Facebook to any other page on Facebook without going to your homepage.”

Facebook chat has also been resigned to the left in the new news feed. Facebook said that the reason for this is to get more people to see it. Some desktop users simply didn’t have the screen capabilities to see the chat information on the right-hand side.

Facebook’s mobile experience for the new news feed is going to look and feel just like the desktop experience. That’s the bottom line. With this refresh, Facebook is no longer allowing any light between the two. Your Facebook news feed is your Facebook news feed – it doesn’t matter how you access it.

It seems that this is what Facebook means when they say “goodbye clutter,” and that they want to get Facebook “out of the way” of the Facebook experience.

The Business of Business

So you know that with the new news feed, photos are both bigger and more prominent. You couldn’t have thought that ads were going to stay the same, right?

Yes, ads in your news feed will be getting bigger.

“We’re taking all the content you see in the feed and making it more immersive. So that goes across the board for everything, including ads,” said Facebook’s Julie Zhuo.

As a marketer, this presents plenty of new opportunities. Promoted Posts, Sponsored Stories, and Page promotion ads almost have to be visually impressive in order to flow with the rest of the news feed. If marketers didn’t see the advantage of developing striking, image-based ads before, this must surely be a wakeup call – that’s the future of ads on Facebook.

If you operate a Facebook Page, there are both good and bad aspects of Facebook’s news feed redesign. The good is that there’s a new “following”-only news feed option, so users have the opportunity to browse an unadulterated stream of content from business and interest pages. And the option to browse this specific feed is given prime placement on the homepage. In light of the recent hullabaloo of page owners accusing Facebook of decreasing post visibility to promote their Promoted Posts product, this feed option should be welcomed with open arms.

But it’s still just an option. And whether or not users choose to utilize that option remains to be seen.

Now for the bad: to compliment the “following” feed, there’s also an “all friends” feed that weeds out all page posts. Bummer.

Overall, the more visual news feed can only help business pages. Remember the aforementioned Timeline snippets that pop up when a user’s friend makes friends with another user? Well, that concept also applies to pages. When a user likes a new page, a visual snippet of that page’s Timeline will appear in the news feed. This gives pages a chance to make a bold first impression, increasing the likelihood that a user will choose to visit or like the page on the spot.

Facebook Tells Developers to Prepare

Everything is larger and more visual in the new news feed, and app developers have to prepare for this as well.

Facebook is suggesting that developers begin to optimize for high-res feed stories (on both desktop and mobile):

In the new design, the things people share through apps are larger and more engaging in News Feed. We’re also making it easier for people to access their game and music feeds, now accessible from the top right area. To take advantage of this new design, we encourage you to optimize for high-resolution feed stories on both web and mobile by providing 600X600 pixel images (minimum 200X200 px).

These images will be really important to game developers as Bookmarks will become more important in the news feed. Bookmarks are images that accompany a shared story about a game. The larger image size means may just be what it takes to convince new and returning players to check out your game.

“These ever-present bookmarks will also display the notification counter from the most recent game requests to help drive re-engagement with players,” says Facebook.

So, there you go. Facebook has just unveiled the most dramatic redesign of its most important product in years. All that’s left to know is the “when?”

Not soon, probably. At least for most of you. Facebook has said that this will be a slow, careful rollout so that they can get their ducks in a row. It’s a big change to a big product, and they want to make sure it’s right before handing it over to everyone in the world. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone, considering they’re currently doing the same sort of slow rollout with Graph Search.

There is one thing you can do, however, to improve your chances of getting the new news feed before your friends. You can go to facebook.com/about/newsfeed and join the waiting list. All you have to do it click a big, green button. You can’t miss it.

From what you’ve seen, what do you think? Good for users? Good for businesses? Let us know in the comments.


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7 SEO Friendly Site Features that Developers Often Miss

Web developers are great: without them, we wouldn’t have, well… the web! But unfortunately, a lot of developers can have a bit of a blind-spot when it comes to SEO. While some on-site SEO features almost always come as standard now (ability…
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SEO For Designers, Developers & Managers

SEO on your own site is straightforward, at least in terms of the politics. SEO’ing a site that a team works on is another matter.

You will come up against barriers. These barriers are often put up by designers, developers, copywriters and management. Frustrating as it is for the SEO, this is the reality of working on a site alongside other people, all of whom have agendas and requirements that may differ markedly from your own.

So how do you navigate this space? How do you ensure your SEO objectives can be met when other people may be resistant to change, or openly try to block you? In this post, we’ll take a high-level, conceptual look at the challenges the SEO faces when working on a client site, and talking-points to help explore and clarify concepts.

1. Why Are We Doing SEO At All?

SEO is a pain.

It’s complicated. It gets in the way, particularly when it comes to design. Why do we need headings and a lot of text when a picture tells a story? SEO appears to be an arbitrary, dark art with little in the way of fixed rules, and the client probably doesn’t care about it anyway.

The thing is – if SEO is done well, a client may throw a whole lot more money at the site in future. Everyone likes to build on success, and that means more business, and more exposure, for everyone involved. On the internet, traffic = success. Traffic = money. A site that few people see, no matter how well executed, will likely fail, just like a site that fails to engage and convert visitors will fail. The client may not know they want SEO now, but you can be certain they’ll be asking questions about it after launch.

If SEO is done poorly, the site may not be seen by as many people as it otherwise would. What use is a beautiful design that is seldom seen? What use is great code that is seldom used?

The value proposition of SEO is that it helps get a site seen. It’s a powerful marketing channel, because most people use search engines to navigate the web. Sites that deliver what the search engines want stand to gain a lot more traffic than sites that do not undertake SEO. If your competitors are undertaking SEO, this puts your work at a competitive disadvantage. Their site will be seen more often by search visitors. Their web agencies will likely get more business as clients see greater returns on their investment.

That’s why we do SEO. To be seen.

Of course, a site can be seen by other means. Word-of-mouth, social media, links, brand awareness, and offline advertising. A site doesn’t need SEO, but given that it is a relatively easy win in terms of cheap traffic acquisition, the extra effort involved is negligible compared to the upside benefits. It’s like being given a choice of having a shop located on main street vs a location way out in the desert. Much the same effort involved in building, but significantly different traffic potential.

2. SEO Is A Design Element

Just as copywriters require space to insert paragraphs and headings, SEO’s require space to do their thing.

If you’re a designer, an SEO will likely provide you with a list of their requirements. These requirements need not be onerous, any more so than leaving space for copy is considered onerous.

There are two key aspects where SEO needs to integrate with design. One aspect is the requirement for machine readable text, provided in a format the search engines are able to read, and derive meaning. Search engines “think” mostly in terms of words, not pictures. Make design allowances for copy that includes lot of headings and sub-headings, a technique which also dovetails nicely with usability.

The other key aspect is crawl-ability. A search engine sends out a spider, a piece of code that grabs the source code of your website, and dumps it back in a database. It skips from page to page, following links. If a page doesn’t have a link to it, or no crawlable link to it, it is invisible to the search engines. There are various means of making a site easy to crawl, but one straightforward way is to use a site map, linked to from each page on the site. Similarly, you should ensure your site navigation is crawlable, which means using standard hyperlinks, as opposed to scripted/executable links. If you must use scripted links, try and replicate the navigation elsewhere on the page in non-scripted form, or within the body of the text.

For most sites, that’s pretty much it when it comes to design considerations. In summary, the inclusion of machine readable text, and a means for a spider to crawl easily from page to page.

An SEO may also wish to specify a page hierarchy and structural issues, where some pages are given more prominent positions than others. Of course, this needs to be weighed against navigation considerations for visitors who arrive at the site via other means.

3. SEO For Developers

Like design, there are two key areas of integration.

One is tagging. SEO’s will want to specify title tags, and some meta tags. These need to be unique for each page on the site, as each page is an entry page as far as a search engine is concerned. A search visitor will not necessarily arrive at the home page first.

The title tag appears in search results as a click able link, so serves a valuable marketing function. When search visitors consider which link to click, they’ll use the title tag and snippet to influence their decision.

The second aspect concerns URL’s. Ideally, a URL should contain descriptive words, as opposed to numbers and random letters. For example, acme.com/widgets/red-widgets.htm is good, whilst acme.com/w/12345678&tnr.php is less so. The more often the keyword appears, the more likely it will be “bolded” on a search results page, and is therefore more likely to attract a click. It’s also easier for the search engine to determine meaning if a URL is descriptive as opposed to cryptic. For an in-depth look at technical considerations, see “SEO For Designers“.

One workaround if the database needs unique codes is to translation at the URL level, using URL rewriting.

4. SEO Is A Marketing Strategy

The on-page requirements, as dealt with above, are half the picture.

In order to rank well, a page needs to have links from external sites. The higher quality those sites, the more chances your pages have of ranking well. The SEO will look to identify linking possibilities, and point these links to various internal pages on the site.

It can be difficult, near impossible, to get high quality links to brochure-style advertising pages. Links tend to be directed at pages that have reference value. This is a strategic decision that needs to weighed during site conception. Obviously, few sites strive, or want to be, Wikipedia, however there are various ways to incorporate reference information into commercial sites where the primary purpose of the site is not the publication of reference information.

For example, include a blog, a news feed, publish the e-mail newsletter to the site, and/or incorporate a reference section within the site. It doesn’t matter if this section isn’t viewed by visitors who navigate directly to the site. It provides a means to get a lot of information-rich content into the site without disrupting design and other commercial imperatives. Think of it as a “mini-site” within a site.

Not every page needs to be for the purposes of SEO. SEO can be sectioned off, although this is often less ideal than more holistic integration throughout the site.

5. Strategic Factors For Managers

Concept, design and development can screw-up SEO.

Poor integration can result in loss of potential traffic. This traffic will go to competitors. The longer a site doesn’t use an SEO strategy, the harder it is to ever catch the competition, as a head-start in link building is difficult to counter.

If your aim, or your clients aim, is to attract as much targeted traffic as possible – as most site owners do – then SEO integration must be taken as seriously as design, development, copy and other media. It may influence your choice of CMS. It may influence your strategic approach in terms of how and what type of information you publish.

Whilst SEO can be bolted-on afterwards, this is a costly and less-effective way of doing SEO, much like re-designing a site is costly and less effective than getting it right in the planning stage. If SEO is integrated in the planning stage, it is reasonably straightforward.

The time to incorporate SEO is during site conception. SEO is a text publishing strategy. Design and development will need to make minor changes to the way they approach a site build. Doing this retrospectively, whilst not impossible, is more difficult, and therefore more costly.

Coda: Flash Workarounds For SEO

There are various workarounds to existing search-unfriendly design, but I’d advise to avoid the problem in the first place.

Flash, whilst a useful tool for embedding within sites, should be avoided for the entire site. Flash is a graphics/animation format, whereas search – and the web in general – is primarily a text format. If you build an entire site using Flash, then your competitors will overtake you in terms of search visitors. The formats simply do not gel.

One work around is strategic – split the site in two. Use Flash as a brochure site, and create a hub site that is text based. Consider including a “printable” version of the site, which will give the search engines some text to digest. Whilst there are technical and strategic ways around Flash, they are often clumsy and tedious.

The search engines can make sense of most sites, but if you’re expecting to get rewarded by search engines, then it pays to stick as close to their technological strengths and weaknesses as possible.

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