If you’re a developer who uses Facebook’s Graph API, then hopefully you already know that Facebook is deprecating more than 50 metrics. Facebook has stated on its FQL insights page that the deprecated metrics will be removed from the API on February 15, 2012. It appears, however, that Facebook has prematurely removed the deprecated metrics as they are no longer available.
If you weren’t already aware of this, then you’re probably either scratching your head trying to figure out why your data is missing or, worse yet, you haven’t even noticed that it isn’t working properly.
If these changes come as a surprise, you likely aren’t alone, as Facebook admits that they didn’t properly let developers know about the impending change. On their developer roadmap page, Facebook states:
“We announced this in a number of forums, but failed to outline this change in our Platform Roadmap per our breaking change policy. Our apologies.”
Hopefully that apology is good enough for any developers now scrambling to make sure their apps are updated so that they no longer are using any of the deprecated metrics.
Facebook's Deprecating Metrics
All the deprecated metrics relate to Page Insights, so they are metrics related to your Facebook Page and not related to Facebook apps or domain related metrics. Some of the over 50 deprecated metrics will be completely eliminated while others are being replaced by metrics that Facebook has added to the Graph API.
Below are two tables that should help anyone who was not aware of the changes that Facebook made.
The table above lists deprecated metrics which have a replacement metric. The page_photo_views, page_video_plays, and page_audio_plays metrics are all being replaced by a single metric. The same is true for the “unique” version of the metrics.
The advantage of the new metric is that it returns the three metrics listed here as well as “link clicks” and “other clicks” all segmented out so that you can easily see a count of each method by which people consumed your Pages content.
The table above lists deprecated metrics that don't have a metric that will return the same results. Some metrics, such as page_discussions, are no longer relevant since they do not exist anymore within Facebook. Others, however, are still very relevant. A few of these include page_comment_adds, page_like_adds, and page_views.
Some of these metrics can still be retrieved, but Facebook has moved them to the Post level instead of the Page level. For example, you can see how many Comments or Likes a particular Post had through the post_stories_by_action_type metric, but it does not aggregate it across all Posts.
Facebook also seems to have changed what is available when looking at pageviews. At the Page level, it looks like they have combined page_views and page_stream_views into a new metric called page_impressions. At the Post level, there is now a metric called post_impressions which shows how many times people were exposed to that Post.
Implications for Developers?
It definitely takes some time to fully understand the implications of all the changes and to update or replace deprecated metrics. My hope is that Facebook has a long term strategy in place so that future changes to the Facebook interface don't require reworking the API metrics. If this is the case, then I think the changes that have been made will be positive.
My biggest complaint is how unorganized the whole process seems to have been. Not officially announcing that you’re deprecating metrics and instead letting people know in a few forums is not an ideal way to communicate these types of changes. Then stating that the metrics will be deprecated on one date and then actual deprecating them at an earlier date can be detrimental to anyone who is updating their apps based on the stated date that the changes will be made.
If you use the Graph API, hopefully you had already stopped using the deprecated metrics. If not, you probably have some work cut out for yourself to get the updates in place as quickly as possible. Good luck and hopefully in the future Facebook will be much clearer about changes that are being made to their APIs.