Facebook standardizes invitation UI across all apps

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that they would be standardizing the invitation sending UI and eliminating the notifications.sendRequest method for developers. However, they did not give a specific timeline until last Thursday, when Facebook announced that the change would happen in 7 days, giving developers a week to change the invitation code within their apps. The change went live a couple days ago, and now all Facebook invitations look the same.

Since the beginning of the Platform, Facebook has had to tweak the invitation rules a few times to limit the impact spammers could have at large. At first, Facebook had no limits on invitations – apps could spam all your friends every day, and many apps had little behind their full page of checkboxes with no skip button, yet were able to grow to millions of users in a matter of a couple of weeks. After that, Facebook limited the number of invitations a user of an application could send to 10 per day – and later to 20 per day, though only 10 at once.

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop developers from still using borderline tactics. Because invitations are such a vital part of the user application experience, Facebook ultimately decided to bring more of the UI in house to prevent poor experiences from becoming common amongst Facebook applications.

Unfortunately, this change does cost developers some power to design compelling invitation experiences. For example, Facebook only allows developers to filter which friends show up by default in the UI widget by network (and to hide friends who already have the app). Previously, developers were able to much more powerfully choose which 10 friends showed up at the top of an invite page list. However, developers no longer have to build or maintain invitation UI – it’s now all handled by Facebook.

Ultimately, Facebook made a decision to protect the long term integrity of the Platform and a core viral channel – requests. This is a good move for everyone in the Platform community, though it is sad that the spammers out there cost the good developers some powerful tools.

[tags]facebook, invitations, requests, notifications, UI, spam[/tags]