With the recent developments with social media and the use of apps one term has been thrown out that you may never have heard of: API. Facebook’s API has come under fire and changes are being made with implications for anyone who is using social media or apps that connects to the Internet. So what exactly is API?

What is API?

You might be reading this through Nicely Done Site’s Facebook page and if you’re not head on over and check it out! If you are using an application that is connected to the Internet on your smartphone you are using an API. This app sends data to a server, determines what actions need to be performed with that data and then sends data back presenting it in a readable format for you. That is the API, or the Application Programming Interface, in a nutshell.

Every webpage is stored on a server somewhere, even your site from Nicely Done Sites. When you go to a website (Facebook for example) your browser sends a request to Facebook’s server and interacts with the API. This provides an extra level of security for both the user and the server. Neither is ever fully interfaced with the other, instead only communicating in small amounts of packets with each other. In essence this is a middleman between you, the client, and the website, the host.

Benefits of API

Thanks to API modern commerce has been revolutionized as not only retail giants can develop an app but also anyone else could develop an app. These apps are easily developed, easily accessed and easy to understand so whether you wanted to sell your wares online or just to auto post blog posts from your website API makes it possible. Most are designed to target specific audiences and most are very secure. Amazon released its API so third parties could sell their products through the website and they are not alone, riding high in the new economy.

For web developers this has been a major plus. No longer does an application need to be developed from scratch to handle everything, now each small task can be delegated making development more efficient.

Some frustration as well

There can also be frustration with this as well. It is no secret that Facebook and other social media platforms are embroiled in a user privacy scandal which has prompted changes to their API. Numerous changes have been made to disable apps and the functionality of the platform which have frustrated many users.

Remember it was not the API that was the problem, it was people who were misusing it. Either way Facebook has instituted major changes suspending many third party apps that interface with Facebook groups and apps that access private messages have also been suspended. The search function of apps have also been altered so users can no longer search by phone number or username. For the most part these changes are minor but there are some people who have made a mountain out of a molehill forecasting doom and gloom. Some of these changes may even be temporary or themselves revised in the future.

When API is changed there are going to inevitably be some frustration, after all many people do not like change once they get used to something. Over time as users get used to whatever changes are made it will not seem like such a big deal, especially when your own private data is at stake.

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