Outlook loses Facebook connection

Microsoft has announced that the Facebook ‘social connectors’ that link products like Outlook have stopped working.  No warning, it’s just happened.

This affects a wide range of Microsoft products including Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013.  We’ve copied below Microsoft’s full list of affected products.

Microsoft is blaming Facebook for this but, as we’ll see, that excuse doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The What’s New section won’t be updated and perhaps more annoyingly, there’s no more contact pictures being updated automatically from Facebook profiles.

That means Outlook goes back to have lots of annoying silhouette images

instead of getting something automatically from Facebook.

Getting those profile pictures was the main reason many people bothered with the Facebook connector at all.

The Facebook Social Connector in Outlook 2010/2013/2016 has simply stopped working.  There’s no warning of this at all.  If you go to the Social Connectors dialog (File | Info | Account Settings | Social Network Accounts), Facebook is still there with a tick next to it.

But if you click on the Edit button there’s a name / password prompt for your Facebook account.  No matter what you type, you’ll keep getting that prompt.

Microsoft, when designing the Social Connectors system, didn’t allow any login error messages to appear.

The Facebook connector comes with Outlook 2013 (and Outlook 2016 Preview) so many people are going to be very confused and waste a lot of time trying to fix this.  Not everyone reads the Microsoft Knowledge Base (this only place Microsoft has disclosed this, so far) or Office Watch for that matter.

Microsoft hasn’t covered itself in glory when it comes to the Social Connectors.  They allowed the web link from Outlook 2013 to be broken for some time until Office Watch publicly shamed them.

The social connector web pages from Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 haven’t been updated to warn customers about the Facebook disconnection.  A few lines of text on those pages would make things a lot easier for customers … but, it seems, Microsoft can’t be bothered.

Update

We practice what we preach.   Clever Outlook Contactsour popular book on the Contacts feature in Outlook 2010/2013/2016, has been updated to note the dropping of this important Outlook feature.

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Blame Facebook

Microsoft is blaming Facebook for this.  They say that changes by Facebook to the Graph API (which manages interconnections) mean that “Facebook Connect features will no longer be supported.”

That excuse doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The changes to Graph API are just part of an ongoing dispute between Microsoft and Facebook.   A dispute that’s now spilled over into the public arena.

Facebook would not be so foolish as to make technical changes that broke their link with a major partner.  Changes to a major API don’t happen overnight or without collaboration with major partners.  Any coding/API changes would be planned, discussed and agreed upon to ensure that the connection between Microsoft products and Facebook continued.  Even if the API changes did break the link with Microsoft, there would be plenty of warning of the change instead of the sudden stoppage.

Therefore, it’s unlikely that this is just a technical issue. Those kinds of problems can be resolved, one way or another, if the companies agree.

It’s more likely that this is a money or contractual dispute between Facebook and Microsoft.  The ‘Graph API’ story allows Microsoft to blame Facebook entirely.  The truth is a lot more complicated and there’ll be enough blame to share between Microsoft and Facebook executives.

Meantime, Microsoft’s paying customers will suffer and waste time.  Thanks to both companies.

 

Here’s the main part of Microsoft’s Knowledge Base article Facebook Connect is no longer available

Outlook.com Contacts

  • If you’re a new user, you won’t be able to connect your Facebook contacts to your Outlook.com account.
  • If you’ve previously connected your Facebook account to Outlook.com, your Facebook contacts will no longer be updated with information from Facebook.

Outlook.com, Windows , Windows Phone and Office 365 Calendar sync

Facebook events will no longer automatically sync to your Calendar on Outlook.com, Windows, Windows Phone and Office 365. As a workaround, you can subscribe to a link that Facebook provides from Outlook.com calendar.

When you connect that Outlook.com account with your Windows, Windows Phone, and/or Office 365 Outlook Calendar, the events that you subscribe to will sync across those apps.

  1. Sign in to Facebook, then choose Events on the left side of the window.
  2. On the lower right of the page, notice the message: “You can add your events to Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar or Apple Calendar. Once you add them, they’ll stay updated. Learn More. Upcoming Events. Birthdays.”.
  3. Right-click Birthdays, (or long pause on a touch device), and choose Copy link address.
  4. Sign in to your Outlook.com from a web browser, and go to Calendar.
  5. Choose Import from the header.
  6. Choose Subscribe on the left side, then paste the URL that you copied in step 3 in the Calendar URL box.
  7. Enter a name for the new calendar and click Subscribe.

Tip   You can also change the color or select a charm if you want, before choosing Subscribe.

Windows 8.1 People app

The People app on Windows 8.1 will no longer support the following features:

  • Facebook Connect – If you’ve connected the People app to Facebook on Windows 8.1, you’ll no longer be able to see any updates from your Facebook contacts in the app from now on. If you’re a new user, you won’t be able to add your Facebook account to the People app because the Connect feature is no longer supported.
  • Contact Sync – Contact information for the Facebook contacts shown will no longer be updated with information from Facebook.
  • Live Tile Notifications – People app tile notifications shown on the desktop will no longer include updates from Facebook.
  • Sharing via Charms Bar – Sharing content to Facebook contacts using the People app will no longer be supported.
  • Post, Like, Unlike, and Comment Activities – Posting updates to Facebook contacts via the People app will no longer be supported.

Windows 8 People app

The desktop People app on Windows 8 will continue to work, but it will no longer receive updates from Facebook for connected accounts. As a result, the What’s New and Notifications sections, contact information, and Live Tile notifications for Facebook contacts will no longer be updated with information from Facebook.

If you’re a new user, you won’t be able to add your Facebook account to the People app because the Connect feature is no longer supported.

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Calendar app

The Calendar app on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 will no longer receive birthday or event information updates for Facebook contacts. As a result, birthday or event information for Facebook contacts shown in the Calendar app’s Live Tile may become outdated.

Windows 8 Photo Gallery and Movie Maker

  • You will no longer be able to publish photos or videos directly to Facebook. But photos and videos that have been previously published to Facebook via Photo Gallery will remain published.
  • As a workaround, you can use Movie Maker to publish your movie project to your computer using the 1080p, 720p, or 480p profiles that are already built into Movie Maker. Then you can directly upload the final movie files to Facebook using Facebook website.
  • You can still use the Facebook website or Facebook app to upload photos to Facebook by selecting photos saved to your computer.

For more information, see the Windows Essentials Community Forum.

Windows 8 Photos App

  • You will no longer be able to view photos and videos that have been previously published to Facebook.
  • You can still use the Facebook website or Facebook app to upload photos to Facebook by selecting photos saved to your computer.

Windows Phone 7 and 8 People app

The People app newsfeed data will no longer be updated with data from Facebook. Facebook contacts and Facebook events in the Calendar app will no longer be updated with information from Facebook.

Windows Phone 7 and 8 OneDrive

Posting a picture or video to your Facebook wall or Facebook profile on Windows Phone 7.5/8 and Office will no longer work. As a workaround, post photos and videos via the Facebook website or Facebook app.

Windows Phone 7 and 8 Photos

Posting a photo or video to your Facebook wall or Facebook profile on Windows Phone 7 and 8 will no longer work. Also the integration of your Facebook photo into your Photo Gallery will no longer work.

As a workaround, post and view photos and videos via the Facebook website or Facebook app.

Windows Live Essentials Calendar and Contacts

The Windows Live Essentials Calendar and Contacts functionality will continue to work, but it will no longer receive birthday event or contact updates from Facebook for connected accounts. As a result, birthday events or contact information for the Facebook contacts may become outdated.

OneDrive Online

  • The Publish to sidebar link will no longer be available.
  • Any photos or videos that have been published previously will remain published.
  • You can still use the Facebook website or Facebook app to upload photos to Facebook by selecting photos from your OneDrive folder.

Outlook Social Connector in Outlook 2013

  • The Outlook Social Connector (OSC) connection to Facebook will no longer function, and you’ll see an “Invalid user name or password” error in the OSC connection dialog. As a result, content from Facebook such as the What’s New section and your Facebook profile picture won’t be updated.
  • You can remove your Facebook connection by selecting the X in the Outlook Social Connector window.

Office 365 Outlook Web App

The following features will no longer be available:

  • Facebook Connect – If you’ve connected to Facebook in Outlook Web App, your Facebook contacts will no longer be synchronized to your Office 365 account.

If you’re a new user, you won’t be able to connect to Facebook using Outlook Web App.