April 2021 Newsletter

Bringing you curated Web Scraping, SEO and Digital Marketing news from around the web

April 2021 Newsletter

April 2021 Newsletter 150 150 admin
April 2021 Newsletter

We’re well-travelled on the road that is 2021 now, and this month I’ve pulled out news of Facebook accepting web scraping, and an update on Google’s Page Experience algorithm. Enjoy!

Facebook To Accept Scraping ‘Incidents’

Facebook Incidents

Back in 2019, Facebook suffered a data breach that resulted in personal data of over 530 million of its users becoming available online for a fee, if you knew the correct hacker forum to visit.

While this data included names, locations, email addresses, and phone numbers, Facebook insisted this was not a ‘hack’ as the data was publicly available. Still, it wasn’t a good position for Facebook to find itself in, and they have stated that the ability to grab this data has now been closed off.

The incident was brushed under the carpet and all but forgotten about some time ago. That is until Facebook accidentally sent an internal email from Facebook to a journalist at Data News.

Originally composed shortly after the breach, the email detailed Facebook’s long-term strategy and described how it would brush the breach off as a sector-wide problem, not one specific to Facebook, and how they need to prepare for many more scraping incidents.

The relevant text of the email was:

“In the long term we expect more scraping incidents and it is important to frame this as a sector problem and normalize that this happens regularly. To do this, the team proposes a follow-up post in the coming weeks that talks more widely about our anti-scraping work and provides more transparency around the work we do here. This may reflect much of the scraping activity, we hope this helps normalize the fact that this is ongoing and avoid the criticism that we are not transparent about specific incidents.”

While they mention anti-scraping efforts, it’s also clear that Facebook had normalised scraping incidents and concluded that these would happen frequently:

“We expect more scraping incidents and think it’s important to both frame this as a broad industry issue and normalise the fact that this activity happens regularly.”

Data News has confirmed the veracity of the email and said in a statement:

“We understand people’s concerns, which is why we continue to strengthen our systems to make scraping from Facebook without our permission more difficult and go after the people behind it.”

Google’s Page Experience Update Delayed

Page Experience

Google’s Page Experience algorithm was due to roll out at the start of May. This is a major update where Core Web Vitals become ranking signals.

According to a blog post, Google has now pushed this back to mid-June. Great news if you haven’t fully prepared your site for the update yet. In addition to that, there’s confirmation of a period while the algorithm ramps up, and Page Experience won’t fully come into force before late August. The delay is down to a desire for more time to check any unexpected or unintended impacts the update brings to light.

Google said:

“We’ll begin using page experience as part of our ranking systems beginning in mid-June 2021. However, page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August. You can think of it as if you’re adding a flavoring to a food you’re preparing. Rather than add the flavor all at once into the mix, we’ll be slowly adding it all over this time period.”

Google has also stated there should be no drastic ranking impact on sites, as page experience will remain just one of many ranking factors. And that’s to be expected.

However, whenever Google bring out large algorithm changes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so best get to work on those updates if you’ve not got them in place already.

And that’s all from me this month. Thanks for reading all the way down to here!

All the best,

Paul Holmes

Head of Sales Operations and Partner Development

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