Facebook Query

Facebook Query

This component uses the Facebook API to retrieve data and load it into a table. This stages the data, so the table is reloaded each time. You may then use transformations to enrich and manage the data in permanent tables.

The component offers both a Basic and Advanced mode (see below) for generating the Facebook API query. Note that although this is exposed in an SQL-like language, the exact semantics can be surprising - for example filtering on a column can return more data than not filtering on it, an impossible scenario with regular SQL.

There are some special pseudo columns which can be part of a query filter, but are not returned as data. This is fully described in the Data Model.

Note: The Facebook API is rate limited and may cause issues when querying large amounts of data. Consider using a Python or Bash Script component to sleep your job between data loads to remedy this.

Warning: This component is potentially destructive. If the target table undergoes a change in structure, it will be recreated. Otherwise, the target table is truncated. Setting the Load Option 'Recreate Target Table' to 'Off' will prevent both recreation and truncation. Do not modify the target table structure manually.


Property Setting Description
Name Text The descriptive name for the component.
Basic/Advanced Mode Choice Basic: This mode will build a Facebook Query for you using settings from Data Source, Data Selection and Data Source Filter parameters. In most cases, this will be sufficient.
Advanced: This mode will require you to write an SQL-like query which is translated into one or more Facebook API calls. The available fields and their descriptions are documented in the Data Model.
Authentication Choice Select an authentication method, which must be setup in advance. Facebook uses the OAuth standard for authenticating 3rd party applications. More help is provided in the setup screens for OAuth authentication.

Note: OAuth Tokens for Facebook will eventually expire and require remaking. It is outside of Matillion's control to remedy this. You can, however, extend and refresh existing tokens.

Data Source Choice Select a data source, for example Likes.
Data Selection Choice Select one or more columns to return from the query.
Data Source Filter Input Column The available input columns vary depending upon the Data Source.
Qualifier Is: Compares the column to the value using the comparator.
Not: Reverses the effect of the comparison, so "equals" becomes "not equals", "less than" becomes "greater than or equal to", etc.
Comparator Choose a method of comparing the column to the value. Possible comparators include: 'Equal To', 'Greater than', 'Less than', 'Greater than or equal to', 'Less than or equal to', 'Like', 'Null'.
'Equal To' can match exact strings and numeric values while other comparators such as 'Greater than' will work only with numerics. The 'Like' operator allows the wildcard character (%) to be used at the start and end of a string value to match a column. The Null operator matches only Null values, ignoring whatever the value is set to.
Not all data sources support all comparators, thus it is likely only a subset of the above comparators will be available to choose from.
Value The value to be compared.
SQL Query Text This is an SQL-like query, written according to the Facebook Data Model.
Note: When referencing a specific account, use the form ('act_<ACCOUNTNUMBER>') where the account number should be a 17 digit number. For example:
SELECT * FROM ads where target in ('act_12345678901234567')
Combine Filters Text Use the defined filters in combination with one another according to either "and" or "or".
Limit Number Fetching a large number of results from Facebook will use multiple API calls. These calls are rate-limited by the provider, so fetching a very large number may result in errors.
Connection Options Parameter A JDBC parameter supported by the Database Driver. The available parameters are determined automatically from the driver, and may change from version to version.
They are usually not required as sensible defaults are assumed.
Value A value for the given Parameter. The parameters and allowed values for the Facebook provider are explained in the Data Model.
Storage Account Select (Azure Only) Select a Storage Account with your desired Blob Container to be used for staging the data.
Blob Container Select (Azure Only) Select a Blob Container to be used for staging the data.
Staging Select (AWS Only) Snowflake Managed: Allow Matillion ETL to create and use a temporary internal stage on Snowflake for staging the data. This stage, along with the staged data, will cease to exist after loading is complete.
Existing Amazon S3 Location: Selecting this will avail the user of properties to specify a custom staging area on S3.
S3 Staging Area Text (AWS Only) The name of an S3 bucket for temporary storage. Ensure your access credentials have S3 access and permission to write to the bucket. See this document for details on setting up access. The temporary objects created in this bucket will be removed again after the load completes, they are not kept.
This property is available when using an Existing Amazon S3 Location for Staging.
Warehouse Select Choose a Snowflake warehouse that will run the load.
Database Select Choose a database to create the new table in.
Type Select Choose between using a standard table or an external table.
Standard: The data will be staged on an S3 bucket before being loaded into a table.
External: The data will be put into an S3 Bucket and referenced by an external table.
Schema Select Select the table schema. The special value, [Environment Default] will use the schema defined in the environment. For more information on using multiple schemas, see this article.
Note: An external schema is required if the 'Type' property is set to 'External'.
Target Table Text Provide a new table name.
Warning: This table will be recreated and will drop any existing table of the same name.
Location Text/Select When using an 'External' type table, Provide an S3 Bucket path that will be used to store the data. Once on an S3 bucket, the data can be referenced by the external table.
Distribution Style Select Auto: (Default) Allow Redshift to manage your distribution style.
Even: Distributes rows around the Redshift cluster evenly.
All: Copy rows to all nodes in the Redshift cluster.
Key: Distribute rows around the Redshift cluster according to the value of a key column.
Table distribution is critical to good performance. See the Amazon Redshift documentation for more information.
Table Distribution Key Select This is only displayed if the Table Distribution Style is set to Key. It is the column used to determine which cluster node the row is stored on.
Table Sort Key Select This is optional, and specifies the columns from the input that should be set as the table's sort-key.
Sort-keys are critical to good performance - see the Amazon Redshift documentation for more information.
Project Text The target BigQuery project to load data into.
Dataset Text The target BigQuery dataset to load data into.
Cloud Storage Staging Area Text The URL and path of the target Google Storage bucket to be used for staging the queried data.
Sort Key Options Select Decide whether the sort key is of a compound or interleaved variety - see the Amazon Redshift documentation for more information.
Encryption Select (AWS Only) Decide on how the files are encrypted inside the S3 Bucket.This property is available when using an Existing Amazon S3 Location for Staging.
None: No encryption.
SSE KMS: Encrypt the data according to a key stored on KMS.
SSE S3: Encrypt the data according to a key stored on an S3 bucket
KMS Key ID Select (AWS Only) The ID of the KMS encryption key you have chosen to use in the 'Encryption' property.
Load Options Multiple Selection Comp Update: Apply automatic compression to the target table (if ON). Default is ON.
Stat Update: Automatically update statistics when filling a table (if ON). Default is ON. In this case, it is updating the statistics of the target table.
Clean S3 Objects: Automatically remove UUID-based objects on the S3 Bucket (if ON). Default is ON. Effectively decides whether to keep the staged data in the S3 Bucket or not.
String Null is Null: Converts any strings equal to "null" into a null value. This is case sensitive and only works with entirely lower-case strings. Default is ON.
Recreate Target Table:Choose whether the component recreates its target table before the data load. If OFF, the existing table will be used. Default is ON.
Load Options Multiple Select Clean Cloud Storage Files: (If On) Destroy staged files on Cloud Storage after loading data. Default is On.
Cloud Storage File Prefix: Give staged file names a prefix of your choice. Default is empty (no prefix).
Auto Debug Select Choose whether to automatically log debug information about your load. These logs can be found in the Task History and should be included in support requests concerning the component. Turning this on will override any debugging Connection Options.
Debug Level Select The level of verbosity with which your debug information is logged. Levels above 1 can log huge amounts of data and result in slower execution.
1: Will log the query, the number of rows returned by it, the start of execution and the time taken, and any errors.
2: Will log everything included in Level 1, cache queries, and additional information about the request, if applicable.
3: Will additionally log the body of the request and the response.
4: Will additionally log transport-level communication with the data source. This includes SSL negotiation.
5: Will additionally log communication with the data source and additional details that may be helpful in troubleshooting problems. This includes interface commands.

Variable Exports

This component makes the following values available to export into variables:

Source Description
Time Taken To Stage The amount of time (in seconds) taken to fetch the data from the data source and upload it to storage.
Time Taken To Load The amount of time (in seconds) taken to execute the COPY statement to load the data into the target table from storage.


Connect to the target database and issue the query. Stream the results into objects on S3. Then create or truncate the target table and issue a COPY command to load the S3 objects into the table. Finally, clean up the temporary S3 objects.


Selecting an API Version

When using the Facebook Query component, always make sure you’re using the latest version of Matillion, since the Facebook driver gets frequently updated.

If you need to use a specific API version, add a Connection Option named Version and set its value to a valid decimal or integer without quotes or punctuation. e.g. 2.12 or 3.1.


Authentication Problems

In order to authenticate successfully, you must have Facebook OAuth credentials, with appropriate scopes enabled. See this article for a step-by-step guide.

In order to successfully set up OAuth for Facebook, you must be accessing Matillion over HTTPS (not HTTP). Please refer to this article for more information about configuring HTTPS.


Error message: “An unknown error occurred”

This error message can be thrown by Facebook APIs under two common circumstances:

  1. When versions become deprecated (see above).
  2. When the API call tried to retrieve too much data.

If you are using the latest version of Matillion and still receive “an unknown error occurred”, try restricting the data volumes, for example by reducing the date range in the query. Note that setting the “limit” property of the component probably won’t make any difference in this respect.

It might also be possible to use the asynchronous API. In advanced mode try adding a predicate on UseAsync. e.g.

SELECT ... FROM AdInsights

WHERE UseAsync=True

Error message: “You are calling a deprecated version”

Occasionally Facebook APIs will throw this more specific error due to version deprecation. It’s the same underlying problem as the “an unknown error occurred” listed above.


Error message: “A target must be specified”

Virtually all of the Facebook data sources require that you provide a “Target” in the query. The “target” depends upon the context, and might for example be a Page, an Ad, an AdSet or a Campaign. You specify the target by adding an equality predicate on “Target”, for example like this:


Data discrepancies

Within Business Manager, it’s possible that when you refresh a report for a specific date range, there will sometimes be a discrepancy between the old and new results. This is a feature of Facebook, and you may find the same thing happening with the Matillion ETL Facebook Query because it uses the same APIs.


Specifying date ranges

Some Facebook queries allow you to specify time ranges, for example using DateStart and DateEnd. The date format is DD/MM/YYYY for these. Incorrect date formats can sometimes result in strange errors along the lines of “Cannot compare data type of class java.lang.Double to class java.util.Date”

Some Facebook queries allow you to specify magic strings for date ranges such as DatePreset = 'yesterday'


Querying Authenticated as Page

Connection Option for this, which you can set with the Parameter AuthenticateAsPage and the Value set to the Page ID.


This job will stage (copy) an account's Facebook Wall items into a table called "facebook_wall".

Connecting to the Facebook API requires setting up OAuth credentials, which is described here.

The "Wall" data source is chosen, and some basic fields chosen. The default limit of 100 is kept to control the number of API calls made.