Facebook’s Anonymous Login: How Will It Affect You?

How does Anonymous Login affect users?

Facebook just announced Anonymous Login. At first glance, you may be thinking “Great! Now I can use applications without having to give up any information!” Slow down there a minute. Facebook’s Anonymous Login will still uniquely identify you, even if your personal information isn’t handed over to third-party apps. While your birthday and list of friends won’t be accessible per se, it would not be impossible to determine certain demographics based on your long-term usage patterns (which Facebook could use to show you targeted ads based on what they do know).

So where does the anonymity come in? Instead of logging in with your normal Facebook account, Anonymous Login will assign a new unique identifier which applications will use to determine that you are you. While this identifier will not be associated with your normal Facebook account, there is the very real possibility that marketers and advertisers could still have some insight into your online habits. While this definition of “anonymous” may not be conventionally considered truly anonymous, users can now sample applications without the developers receiving their personal information from Facebook.


How will Anonymous Login affect developers/our customers?

Developers and businesses, on the other hand, are getting no real benefit. By offering anonymous login, they are giving up many of the tools that made Facebook login so appealing. The biggest reason to integrate with Facebook is to leverage some of its user base through social sharing. Word of mouth is a great way to drive business. Public status updates, invites, and other posts drive both awareness and traffic.

User analytics are incredibly important to companies. The more information that can be gathered on an app’s users, the better the company understands them. When users are understood, decisions are more informed, which helps tailor marketing and new functionality to the actual user base.

Anonymous Login still gives developers and users an easy authentication process. Users don’t need to remember dozens of usernames and passwords, which can be off-putting and keep them from trying an app. This should result in a lower barrier to entry for new users, meaning developers will benefit from a larger user base, even if that means knowing less about individual users.

So how can mobile apps get this valuable user data that Anonymous Login eliminates? Facebook also announced an updated normal Facebook Login, which gives users the power to pick and choose what information apps get. While a user could sign in using their normal Facebook account and then opt out of all app permissions, the more likely scenario is that users will allow the permissions that appear reasonable, or blanket-approve all permissions for applications they trust. The new Facebook Login will allow you to specify whether you wish to share things like your email address, birthday, or friends list. Developers will need to assume that they will not receive these types of data just because they request it.


Who does Anonymous Login benefit?

Facebook benefits the very most from these changes. Having long been criticized for complex privacy settings and being a treasure-trove of publicly searchable personal data, the granular permissions in Facebook Login and the more restrictive Anonymous Login may increase the trust users have in using their Facebook account to login to third-party apps.


How will it affect your app?

Any new application should update to accommodate the latest version of Facebook Login. The decision to use Anonymous Login is more complex, however, depending on the needs of your application. If you’re fine with just tracking unique user behavior and not necessarily knowing personal information about your users such as age or gender, Anonymous Login may be for you.


What else?

Facebook says that soon they will “start reviewing new apps that use Facebook Login to help ensure higher quality apps are available to people.”

They will be checking for three things:
1. The application only requests the permissions that it actually needs. Under particular scrutiny are ones that request permissions beyond e-mail, public profile, and friends list.
2. If an application is going to post to a user’s profile, it clearly asks permission to do so.
3. The application works on a variety of devices without login crashes and error warnings.
More information can be found on the login review process here.

Getting apps submitted and reviewed for login compliance adds more work and time to the submission process. Facebook estimates their time to approval is 7-14 business days. With acceptance into the Google Play Store taking only hours and the App Store taking anywhere from a few days to a week (in our experience), adding Facebook login will exponentially increase an application’s time to the store.


Looking for advice?

Metova is here to help! If you’d like to discuss your mobile app’s needs for Facebook integration, or wish to start a new effort that leverages these features, contact us to get started.

Jennifer Pike
Jennifer Pike