Social network behemoth Facebook (news, site) is receiving criticism yet again for acting first and explaining later -- this time with developers on its application framework. Facebook implemented a “new enforcement system” that resulted in several popular applications being disabled.
Facebook’s Newest Feature: Disabling Your Application
Facebook has long supported a programming interface that allows developers to create applications that integrate with the site’s social media features. Now the company has began shutting down many of these applications due to the results of an algorithm that targets applications that post to users’ walls too frequently.
Controlling spam is a good idea. However, the problem in this case is that Facebook didn’t inform developers it was implementing the policy or software. Many developers logged on Friday and saw that their app had been disabled and became alarmed. The change primarily affected smaller applications, not those with millions of active users such as the popular Zynga games. Many of the developers have indicated they are surprised their applications have been disabled because they had good user ratings and few, if any, complaints to their knowledge.
Facebook has released a statement apologizing for the suddenness of the actions, but saying the move was necessary to reduce spam on the platform. Facebook says they experienced a spike in the amount of user complaints and they had to take action. Facebook representatives said the company hopes the move will increase user satisfaction and trust on the platform -- even if it irritates developers. Facebook says it will be releasing a new analytics tool, Application Insights, that allows developers to monitor negative user feedback and have some warning before their application is disabled.
However, for the immediate issue, Facebook has posted a link for developers to appeal the automated decision. A few of the applications have been restored, but most have not and developers are upset at the seemingly arbitrary action. A number of developers are expressing their concern on official Facebook forums and unofficial outlets.
While it is developers that are concerned now, Facebook might want to be careful that it does not scare marketers away from its platform with these types of actions.