Two tweaks to Facebook Platform viral channels this week

As part of its ongoing campaign to clean up spammy use of Facebook communication channels by applications, Facebook is making two tweaks to the Platform this week: adding a new link to block all future invitations from a given friend, and announcing a new rule on delayed notifications.

lil green patch1. New “Ignore All Invites from this Friend” link

Facebook has added a new link to all requests/invitations that allows the receiver to ignore all future invitations from that friend. While this will likely be infrequently used, it will allow users to hide spammy invites from those 1 or 2 friends that don’t seem to hesitate before sending out invitations.

In addition, this feature will allow Facebook to start collecting per-user invitation spamminess data that I hope they will use in the future to turn on per-user invite limits (instead of per-application invite limits like they do now). That’s a better approach for users and developers.

2. New rule against delayed notifications

Facebook has announced a new rule regarding delayed notifications on the Developer wiki policy page. The rule says,

Send notifications conveying information to a user about the discrete action(s) of one or more other users more than 12 hours after completion of the oldest action referenced in the notification, unless the notification explicitly indicates the particular time when the oldest action was initiated by the user taking the action or completed by the application.

Examples:

  1. “<Username> posted an item on <your Appname> Board.” This user action, and the application completion of the action, are nearly simultaneous. The API call to send this notification must be initiated within 12 hours of the action.
  2. “<Username> sent you a birthday gift. Click here to see it.” If <Username> took an action in the application on January 5th indicating he wanted to send this birthday gift to the recipient on February 9th, and the application did indeed deliver the gift inside the application on February 9th, the API call to send this notification must be made within 12 hours of the application delivering the gift.
  3. “Three of your friends posted items on <your Appname> Board.” The API call to send this notification must be made within 12 hours of the first friend posting to the recipient’s board.
  4. “Yesterday, <Username> posted an item on <your Appname> Board.” If factually correct, this notification can be sent more than 12 hours after the event. However, because the information is not timely, this is a departure from best practices and might result in adverse feedback from users, leading to restrictions on the notifications allocation for your application. Best practices dictate you only send delayed notifications when there is particular user benefit in doing so.

Applications with over 200,000 daily active users have until 5PM PT on Tuesday 8 April to comply with the new rule, and those with under 200,000 DAU have until 5PM PT on Friday 11 April. After that, Facebook says developers are “subject to enforcement.”