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Social Network API

Last Updated : 30 Sep, 2022
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Social media websites were initially designed to confined user experience within four walls of their web page. However, to increase their user base and to expand beyond only desktop accessible websites, these social networks started developing API. 

Those who are into social media programming must be aware of term Social Network API (Application Programming Interface), that majority of social media platforms are providing these days for a developer to interact with the social network, get some demographic data, find out details about a users, posts etc, or to create a new service like Tweetdeck (Twitter). 

Before getting into the details, let’s discuss in short about what is exactly an API ? 

Application Programming Interface (API) is a platform provided by the social networks allowing other applications and websites to pull the social media data and integrate with their site or application. Since social network is itself providing this platform so we can obviously assume that it’s just a puppet. They are providing limited features, call or queries that can be performed by developer and they require developer to generate an API Key before using the API. This key is like your Aadhaar Card. If someone does anything wrong or we can say if someone try to do anything malicious using an API, he/she will be caught using this API Key. 

Access to API lead to following developments:

  • Developers used API to develop browser-based games or game applications that allow users to sign in using social media credentials and thus allowing the user to compete with any other person using that platform. Have you ever seen Candy Crush Request on Facebook Notification Page, or ever wondered why games like Subway surfers allow the user to get more points/coins by signing up using Facebook credentials? Just to get the user social data to be more effective in targeting the customer.
  • These days barely there is any website or web application that doesn’t provide the option to sign-in using the social media account (Facebook, Google etc.) credentials. The main motive is to get the social media data, for advertising their website or application using user’s account or to display advertisements on the website or application as per the demographic data collected from linked social media account. Have you ever seen a Google Map embedded on a web page? This all is feasible with the advent of Google Maps API, that allows developers to embed Google Maps on any webpage or any page of an application using JavaScript or Flash Interface. This API is designed to work on both desktop and mobile devices.

By now it must be clear why API’s are so much in demand. Major Players in the market like Facebook, Google etc released the first iteration of their API in the early 2000s.

  1. Ebay released its first developer toolset in 2000 in the hope that it will expand its business but it was not until 2005 that the API was fully open for the use.
  2. Amazon released its first API in 2002 allowing developers to extract data regarding wishlist of a customer, product reviews etc. Since then Amazon has also released API for its web services and Alexa.
  3. Google has released first API for its search engine in April 2002 allowing developers to do approx 1000 automated search queries. Today there are thousands of API are available for different google services. Thus, resulting in thousands of applications.
  4. Facebook launched its API in the year 2006. Facebook Developer API was one of the first API to be released as platform specific API. Today Facebook provides Graph API with the Open Stream API being the latest.
  5. YouTube first released it’s API in 2008. It lets you add YouTube videos to your website or application, analyse a YouTube channels demographics. YouTube API includes YouTube Data API, YouTube Analytics API, YouTube Live Streaming API and many more.
  6. Twitter API was first released in September 2006. Twitter offers two sets of API: REST API and Search API. REST API allows to access core Twitter Data and the job of Search API is to provide access to search and Trends Data.
  7. Instagram API was first released in April 2014. It allows developer to build applications that can analyse user posts and help users to manage their own posts.

There are so many other social media sites like Pinterest, Flickr, LinkedIn etc. Each having their own API’s, supporting developer to build application that can integrate data from these social media sites on a website or in an application. 



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