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On March the 13th 2019, millions of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users were either unable to open their apps, or experienced a range of problems in loading pages, publishing new posts and interacting with others.
Many took to Twitter to figure out what was happening – since even Facebook’s own bug report platform, in which it discloses what services are down, had gone offline. According to Facebook’s official statement, the shutdown was caused by server configuration changes.
“Yesterday, we made a server configuration change that triggered a cascading series of issues, and as a result, many people had difficulty accessing our apps and services. We have resolved the issues, and our systems have been recovering over the last few hours. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”
Some conspiracy theorists speculated that it may have been caused by Facebook’s push to integrate all of its messaging platforms, or that it may even have been an attempt to cover up some malevolent activities, since prior to the shutdown there was a lot of focus on the current investigation into Facebook’s data deals. There is little evidence to support these theories, but still, as with most things Facebook, there may have been an alternate explanation.
Facebook also announced that it will be saying goodbye to its Ad Relevance Score process on the 30th April. Facebo0ok’s relevance score offered advertisers a level of insight into how well their ad may perform, and was used as one part of the process to define ad reach. Ad Relevance Score will be replaced by several metrics that, according to Facebook, will be “more actionable”.
The new metrics coming into effect are:
In addition, Facebook’s also changing up a bunch of other metrics related to ad performance, with the following categories to be updated:
There were a lot of updates for Facebook Ads manager last month. In addition to replacing old metrics, Facebook has also announced changes to its targeting options for some companies – from now on, housing, employment, and credit ads can no longer be targeted by age, race, or gender.
In a blog post, Facebook explained that these changes are the result of their agreements with various civil rights organisations.
“Our policies already prohibit advertisers from using our tools to discriminate. We have removed thousands of categories from targeting related to protected classes such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. But we can do better. We believe that the changes we are announcing today as part of our settlements with the NFA, ACLU, CWA and other groups will better protect people on Facebook.”
Moreover, Facebook points out that this is not the last step in the quest for fighting discrimination.
“We are building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the US targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you.”
Speaking of which….
As part of its effort to make its on platform advertising more transparent, Facebook also announced the expansion of its ad library, which will now enable all users to look up any active ads being run y any page.
Previously, you could only see ads related to politics or social issues, but Facebook has broadened the tool to add another level of accountability and oversight. In addition, Facebook’s also taking some additional steps to improve page transparency on Pages themselves:
“Beyond the ad library, we are making it easier to find helpful information within Pages too. Now the “Home” tab of every page will include a “page transparency” section with the same page information we have added to the ad library – the data the page was created, previous page merges, name changes, and primary country location for certain pages. People previously had to click “info and ads” to find this information.”