Thousands of Vietnamese online stores to go bankrupt by Facebook blocking API

17:47 | 29/03/2018
Facebook has just blocked API, affecting a large number of Vietnamese online businesses utilising the social network as a trading platform.
thousands of vietnamese online stores to go bankcrupt by facebook blocking api
A large number of online sellers are affected due to Facebook's blocking API

On March 27, many large fanpages and online services simultaneously announced problems related to applications developed on Facebook and Messenger in Vietnam.

Accordingly, Facebook accounts cannot be logged into temporarily. Almost none of the relevant apps like Facebook Shop and third party apps using application programming interface (API) collecting user data work.

“Vietnamese developers’ applications connected to Facebook and Messenger have stopped working two days ago,” said Nguyen Thanh Tung, a programmer supporting sales websites in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tung also said that all the websites’ features and apps related to Facebook user data are affected.

“Too many people are affected, our group members have to deal with each customer, but cannot do anything,” Tung added.

According to Doan Trung Thong, a representative of an e-commerce enterprise from Hanoi, all online sellers must use tools supporting conversation management on Messenger, interact with customers on Facebook to increase feedback efficiency, then consolidate all orders from comments and guests messages to the fanpage.

“Online sellers have to use Facebook’s default tools that have low efficiency and are not optimised for business,” Thong added.

thousands of vietnamese online stores to go bankcrupt by facebook blocking api
API currently cannot work in Vietnam

On March 26, Facebook announced changes related to APIs and third-party applications to all developers using the Messenger platform. The social network is reviewing all APIs to limit the data collected from users.

This problem shows that Vietnam’s online businesses heavily depend on Facebook due to the large number of users and interactions. According to the latest survey of Sapo.vn, a Vietnamese sales management software, 80 per cent of over 1,000 retailers choose Facebook as a trading platform.

“Blocking API is a move to reaffirm the apology after the scandal of Cambridge Analytica company breaking into over 50 million users’ personal information. The move of blocking and checking all applications aims to ensure the rights of users,” said Tran Trong Tuyen, general secretary of the Vietnam E-Commerce Association (VECOM).

Sharing a similar third party access control issue, in November 2017, Facebook’s fellow social media platform Youtube previously came under fire after paid advertisements were displayed side by side with images of children that drew loads of abusive and lewd comments, causing protests and waves of boycotts among users and advertisers.

While Facebook encountered the API rough patch, multimedia and messaging app Snapchat was reported to provide conditional access to third-party applications to Snapchat’s user data to further personalise advertisements and other features, according to newswire The Verge.

Previously in 2015, the US-based employment social media platform LinkedIn also announced API limitations to a remarkable number of third parties, only allowing individual members to share their professional identity, certification, and professional content, as well as companies to showcase their professional content on their registered company API, which was later reported to curb a tremendous amount of partnership deals among LinkedIn individuals and pro-profit businesses.

In late 2017, media-sharing platform Instagram was hit by scandal when the personal data of high-profile accounts belonging to public figures and influencers was reported to be compromised by hackers, using a technical loophole on the platform’s API to leak and trade email addresses and personal phone numbers.

By Anh Sam

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