We started hearing reports midday on Friday that Critter Island had disappeared. It’s now a day later, and Critter Island is still down, along with dozens of other apps we have listed in AppData for developer LOLapps. All redirect to facebook.com.
All signs point to a complete suspention of LOLapps apps by Facebook. LOLapps is a large and stable developer on Facebook, with a slew of quiz and gift applications, as well as Critter Island and several older games. Before yesterday, it had over 14 million monthly active users, making it the twelfth-largest developer on Facebook, and just under a million daily actives.
Preliminary rumors we’ve heard suggest that the ban is real, and that LOLapps did not see it coming. CEO Arjun Sethi declined to comment in response to an email sent yesterday, and hasn’t provided any update since. Facebook has not responded at all.
Update: Facebook responded as this story was being posted: “We have disabled applications from LOLapps due to violations of our terms.”
Facebook has suspended quite a few developers since opening its platform; the largest recent example was Pencake, a company that had several massive quiz apps disabled overnight in July. However, almost every case of a complete ban targets a developers spamming Facebook users with non-game apps. Individual non-game apps are disabled quite often.
LOLapps, by contrast, made a point of its turn to game development in June, and appears to have focused mostly on Critter Island and upcoming titles since. The company is venture funded and generally well-known in the Silicon Valley development community.
Second update: While there have been some suggestions that LOLapps and others were suspended for exploiting loopholes that allowed them to auto-post to users’ feeds, such loopholes are discovered by developers from time to time, and upon using them are reprimanded by Facebook – it’s often part of the day-to-day operation of many developers.
Instead, we’ve also learned that these suspensions possibly relate to worries at Facebook about privacy, specifically relating to sharing data with third-party advertising services. More information may emerge soon. For now, the silence from both parties is enough to make other developers nervous.
Third update: We were correct about the involvement of third-party advertisers; a firm called RapLeaf is behind the LOLapps suspensions, according to a longer Wall Street Journal expose.
Final update: LOLapps is back on Facebook, after less than three days of suspension.
Since LOLapps was reinstated, we’ve written more about Facebook’s data market and policies: