I am astonished at how hard it is to get information out of Facebook groups.
The startup of which I am a part has created a Facebook group for dissemination of information of between commercial kitchen operators. This was easier to get started than a forum and has the advantage of everyone being a “real person”, or at least real enough to get a Facebook account. It also benefits from the ubiquity of Facebook–many many folks have it on their phones and get notifications about group activity.
However, it has the detriment of being a “walled garden”, with the content of the group being unavailable for searchers on the web. Some might argue that privacy actually is a good thing, because it will encourage folks to be more honest, but really, anything you put on Facebook can be cut and pasted and made public, so I’m not sure I buy that argument.
Regardless, I wanted to find an easy, automated way to take the Facebook group content and pipe it elsewhere, where it could be reified and curated. A human could do that, but I’d like an automated solution. And, other than the Facebook API, I haven’t found many. Zapier (my go to integration choice) only recently released this as an option (in the last few months). IFTTT doesn’t have it. There’s no commercial solution that I could find that does this. There are, however, some open source solutions.
The Facebook API makes it fairly easy to grab the posts of a group, and from the posts, the comments, but frankly, I really want a solution that doesn’t require coding up the JSON parsing/pagination handling/Oauth access. I just tried the facebook-export tool and it seems to work just fine (though I had ended up having to update the leveldown/levelup versions to 1.5/1.3 to get past a compile error:
leveldown.target.mk:114: recipe for target 'Release/obj.target/leveldown/src/batch.o' failed). It gives you all your posts as JSON.