Facebook Launches Verification Program to Increase User Trust in Applications

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Originally announced this summer at Facebook’s f8 developer conference, Facebook today is formally launching its Application Verification program designed to certify applications that adhere to Facebook’s guiding principles and goals for the Platform.

Starting today, application developers can apply for verification. Facebook has formed a team that will review applications “to ensure they satisfy the company’s guiding principles around security, respect and transparency, and have demonstrated commitment to compliance with Platform policies.”

After an application has been initially submitted, it will enter a rolling approval process. When Facebook is ready to review developers’ submissions, they will be notified by email, though Facebook says that initially, “This may take several weeks as we ramp up the program.” Developers can then choose to complete the application process by submitting screenshots and answering more detailed questions. Developers must also pay a $375 fee to apply – Facebook says this fee helps cover the operational costs of the program (students and non-profits can apply for special pricing).

How will verified applications be treated differently within Facebook? Facebook’s Platform Program Manager Sandra Liu Huang told us today that “Verified apps will have greater visibility across the site.” This means verified applications will receive:

  1. Greater distribution in the News Feed.
  2. Higher viral channel allocation limits for notifications, requests, and emails (though Huang says “the application reputation system is still in effect”).
  3. A “seal of approval” indicating that the application is verified. The first verified badges will go live in the application directory and on application about pages in early 2009. Huang also says Facebook plans on doing some “user education” around the meaning of the verified badges.

For its part, Facebook has issued more detailed information to help developers understand what exactly Facebook’s review team will be looking for when reviewing applications. Huang says the “focus is on integration points and the purpose which we think the various integrations points are for.”

While the requirements are not as high as those for Facebook’s Great Apps program (which awards apps that “advance the goals” of the Facebook Platform with even more benefits), Facebook encourages all developers to build apps that fit the goals and spirit of the program: providing engaging and trustworthy social experiences for users.

“The goal of the verified program is really to create a trusted ecosystem, so users continue to engage with applications and try new ones,” Huang says.