Facebook login button disappears from websites for privacy reasons

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The Facebook logo is seen on an Apple iPhone.

Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Until about a month ago, shoppers on Dell’s website looking for a new laptop could log in using their Facebook credentials to avoid creating a new username. and a new password. This option is now faded away.

Dell is not alone. Other major brands, including Best Buy, Ford Motor, Pottery Barn, Nike, Patagonia, Match and Amazon’s video streaming service Twitch have removed the ability to log in with Facebook. It’s a marked change from just a few years ago, when Facebook login was plastered all over the internet, often alongside buttons that let you login with Google, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Jen Felch, Dell’s chief digital and chief information officer, said people have stopped using social logins, for reasons that include concerns about security, privacy and data sharing.

“We really just looked at how many people were choosing to use their social media identity to log in, and that just changed over time,” Felch said. “One thing we’re seeing in the industry is more and more security risks or account takeovers, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or whatever, and I just think we’re watching people take the decision to isolate this social media account rather than have further ties to it.”

The disappearance of the connection is the latest sign of Facebook’s diminishing influence on the internet after more than a decade of dramatic growth. Over the past year, the company’s business has been beset by Apple’s iOS privacy change that has made it harder to target ads, a deteriorating economy, competition from the short video service TikTok and reputational damage after a whistleblower leaked documents showing Facebook was aware of the damage caused by many of its products.

Third-quarter revenue is expected to fall for a second consecutive period. Late last year, Facebook changed its name to Meta, reflecting an effort to move the company away from social media and into a futuristic metaverse, where people work, play and learn in a virtual world. And in a nod to changing consumer behavior, Meta said in July that VR users will be able to access headsets without their Facebook credentials.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Representatives for Ford, Patagonia and Twitch declined to say why they removed the Facebook button, while Best Buy, Pottery Barn, Nike and Match did not respond to requests for comment.

Rakesh Soni, CEO of a digital identity management company Connection radiussaid many companies once viewed social logins as an easy-to-use method for consumers to securely access their sites without having to set up dozens of usernames and passwords.

It was supposed to be a win-win – for online businesses, major internet companies and advertisers.

Websites could take advantage of the growing popularity of social media and reduce the chances of potential customers being bored and bailed out before completing a transaction. Facebook and Google would benefit from any data they collect about where users spent their time and what types of products they purchased. Advertisers could promote their products more effectively with better targeting.

“Violation of their personal space”

This love triangle seems to be falling apart. Soni said websites now see less value in the relationship, largely because consumers have lost trust in Facebook.

In 2018, it was revealed that the data analytics company Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from 87 million Facebook profiles and used that data to target ads during the 2016 presidential campaign. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook users were inundated with misinformation about masks and vaccines. And in documents released last year by ex-employee Frances Haugen, consumers learned that Facebook was aware of damage caused by its products but, in many cases, did not attempt to repair them.

Facebook “is a really personal space where people share their birthdays and family photos,” Soni said. “People started to feel like it was a violation of their personal space.”

Stephanie Liu, marketing analyst at Forrester, said she’s increasingly talking to companies, especially retailers in the consumer packaged goods industry, who are “calling me to say we want to break from Facebook.” . Google’s sign-in tool is stickier because “it’s much harder to break away from Gmail,” she said.

Dell still supports Google’s Social Login because it’s the “only one that has enough volume,” Felch said.

According to a 2022 report by LoginRadius, Google was the preferred social login for North American consumers, based on an analysis of over 1,000 websites and apps. Some 38.9% of users preferred Google sign-in, representing an increase of nearly 1.5 percentage points from 2019. Meanwhile, the percentage of users who said they preferred Facebook fell by more than 5 points over this period to reach 38.7%.

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen speaks during an Energy and Commerce Committee Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on December 1, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Liu said part of the change in Facebook’s appeal was caused by his own actions. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company “limited the amount of user data it’s willing to share with its partners,” Liu said. This means brands use the login tool less because they “get less information about your users, who they are and how to contact them outside of Facebook,” she added.

The Facebook connection is by no means extinguished. Many media websites and news organizations still use it as an option, as do mobile game developers.

But Liu said many companies are looking to reduce their reliance on social media services, especially Facebook.

“It’s no small feat to make that kind of decision to divorce Facebook,” she said.

Connection confusion

Marketing technology company Dampen used to offer social connections to its customers, who rely on the company to manage their various social media accounts.

But as Buffer’s user base grew over the years, Tom Redman, the company’s chief product officer, noticed that people sometimes forgot which internet account they were logging into. As a result, they would inadvertently create multiple Buffer accounts.

“It wasn’t uncommon for them to have two or three Buffer accounts by accident,” Redman said. Social connections “ultimately proved confusing for customers,” he said.

Then there is the data. By allowing customers to connect through third parties, Buffer did not collect email addresses, which posed a challenge when the company needed to contact users about support, marketing, and privacy issues. private life.

“We just said, ‘Okay, well, let’s do an experiment and get rid of social logins and social sign-ups,'” Redman said. The company made the switch in 2019, long before the mass web exodus. Redman said the day Buffer pulled the plug “was the happiest day our advocacy team has had in the last five or six years.”

At wellness company SnapHabit, app users can still log in with Facebook. The company briefly experimented with a sort of passwordless login method known as magic link, but it didn’t work, so SnapHabit decided in 2020 to use social logins as well as email as a means. for users to log in.

Jake Bernstein, co-founder of SnapHabit, said that with all the options available to them, users seem to favor Facebook the least. According to data from his company, out of a sample of 10,000 logins, 42.7% of users logged in with Google, 26.5% used Apple, 20.1% logged in via email and only 10, 7% have used Facebook.

The company even displayed the Facebook button more prominently than the Apple link or email option, accessible only through a small “more options” button below other social logins, Bernstein said.

LoginRadius’ Soni said companies have been deterred from Facebook for reasons other than simple reputational risk. User growth on the social network has stagnated. At the end of last year, the company had 1.93 billion daily active users, a number that barely increased in 2022 to 1.97 billion in the second quarter.

Businesses may ask, “Why the hell should I spend my engineering resources to maintain it?” Soni said. “Why do we even bother to have it if it doesn’t add much value to my business?”

He also said several high-profile data breaches over the past few years probably didn’t help.

Dell’s Felch said she wasn’t sure privacy concerns led customers away from social logins. But the shift has corresponded with greater scrutiny of social media companies’ business models by regulators, investors and consumers.

“They know everything we do,” Felch said, of Facebook and its competitors. “Every site we’ve logged into with a social media account, they know it now.”

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