Facebook is getting aggressive with a few developers who have been abusing the platform. Today the company alerted us to a “substantial” policy enforcement against the developers behind My Calendar, one of the largest Facebook applications. MyCalendar has been temporarily disabled and hundreds of other applications have been permanently shut down. According to Facebook, the developers have been engaging in misleading and spammy tactics in order to get more users rather than building valuable experiences.
The My Calendar developers have been making aggressive applications for a long time now. Back in May I questioned how the developers’ applications were growing so quickly when they didn’t provide much value. It appears that not only were the My Calendar applications aggressive, but so were hundreds of quiz applications that the company was producing.
The quizzes applications that were built by My Calendar have been permanently banned by Facebook and the developers now have an auditing period in which they can resolve issues with the My Calendar application. Facebook provided us with a quote from Paul Jeffries, who leads the Facebook Platform policy team, stating “By enforcing Facebook Platform Terms and Policies and ensuring developers don’t mislead users, we protect user trust in applications — which is beneficial to the whole developer community.”
The message here is that Facebook’s policy team is going to crack down on those applications that are significantly violating the terms of the platform. While I am still wondering why Facebook doesn’t just ban the developers all together, at least Facebook is doing something. Facebook appears to be caught in an interesting cycle with spammers. The company’s open door policy to developers could theoretically be the source of the problems.
Currently, any developer can register for an account and create an application. This is in contrast to Apple which has to specifically approve each application before the developer can obtain distribution opportunities. There are clearly pros and cons of both models and Facebook is putting significant resources into monitoring the platform to ensure that users’ experiences are good ones.
While Facebook still has applications that slip through the cracks (such as some of the phishing apps that are currently getting coverage), policy enforcement has become a significant focus for Facebook. This means that developers who create large numbers of applications to spam the platform will be shut down quickly. Facebook’s message to spammers and aggressive developers: we’re going to shut you down.