Facebook attracts developers -- and controversy

Facebook offers developers generous revenue opportunities along with a fast-growing and deeply engaged community of people. However, this paradise is already getting soiled by self-promoting developers.

Joseph Aigboboh, co-founder of J-Squared Media, another Facebook developer, agreed. "Facebook has created an opportunity to build literally any product and spread it virally to achieve unprecedented rates of growth and retention. This means that with a relatively cheap budget, companies can build lucrative products and services [and] drive revenue," he wrote in an e-mail.

It's no surprise then that some developers have been overeager in their attempts to boost adoption of their applications and generate revenue, while looking for ways to bend the rules.

This week, Dave Morin, Facebook's senior platform manager, addressed the concerns about annoying and abusive applications in an official blog posting, and announced steps have already been taken, with more coming.

Facebook wants the popularity of applications determined by how useful and entertaining they are. Thus, it's shifting how it measures application popularity in its applications directory away from total users and toward user engagement, he wrote.

Vowing to protect members' experiences on the site, he said the latest release of the Facebook Markup Language -- version 1.1 -- changes how profile boxes display content, removing applications' ability to display profile content to visitors and hide it from profile owners.

The company is also limiting applications' ability to contact members to crack down on spamming of deceptive and misleading notifications.

Facebook's user experience has traditionally been considered significantly more elegant, controlled and organized than the one from key rival and social-networking leader MySpace.

Although MySpace remains more popular, Facebook has been gaining momentum for the past 12 months. Its user ranks have ballooned to 37 million active users today from 12 million in December. Over half of its active members return to the site daily.

Slide, which creates "widget" applications for social-networking sites and is big on MySpace, jumped on the chance to set up shop on Facebook, which has quickly become one of its most important platforms.

Although Slide has created some of the most popular Facebook applications, its detractors have criticized it for engaging in some of the inappropriate tactics flagged by Morin.

But Slide's CFO Kevin Freedman said that Slide is as interested as anyone else in providing a good user experience on Facebook and elsewhere.

"We listen to our users' feedback first and foremost. Regarding some of those critical comments, we haven't necessarily seen the same response from our users and that's really what drives us," Freedman said.

Chris Kirkland, CEO of MrKirkland.com, a Web design and development firm, has created three applications for Facebook, but has been unimpressed with the developer program. "I very much consider Facebook to be 'learning on the job' with the development platform," Kirkland wrote in an e-mail.

The tools and resources Facebook provides to developers could be better, he wrote. "Overall we have been extremely disappointed. The documentation is reasonable, though sometimes inaccurate but by far our main complaint is the diabolically poor level of communication. We have a feeling that we are dealing with a bunch of over busy college kids," Kirkland wrote.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?