Platform Update: Custom Date Format, Prohibiting Photostrip Manipulation

This week’s Platform Update on the Developers Blog included the release of a new customizable date format for applications, and the explicit prohibition of apps the violate the Facebook Platform Policies by allowing users to manipulate a friend’s Photostrip. It also included reminders about several other recent releases and announcements, including iframes for Page tab applications, iframe age range objects, and JSGameBench for testing browser performance.

Developers can now use the Graph API to set a custom date format for their applications. The string &date_format=[format] uses a PHP date function-format.

For example, to modify the time format of an Event, developers would call:


  $date_format = "F%20j%20Y,%20g:i%20a";
  $graph_url = ""
    . $date_format;

  $event = json_decode(file_get_contents($graph_url));

  echo '<pre>';
  echo '</pre>';


Instead of using ISO-8601 formatting or a UNIX timestamp, this example prints start_time and end_time in the string format:

 [start_time] => March 14 2010, 9:00 pm
 [end_time] => March 15 2010, 12:30 am

This change should clear up some of the complications and confusions Facebook has had with date formatting. It recently fixed a number of bugs and moved to a timezone-less UTC format for Events.

Facebook also clarified its policy on applications that manipulate the Photostrip of recently tagged photos that is present on both user profiles and Pages. Applications such as BannerBuzz and Profile Banner that facilitate the spammy practice of tagging a friend in multiple photos  in which they don’t appear in order to turn their Photostrip into a continuous banner violate the Facebook Platform Policies, and are “subject to enforcement”.

Developers sometimes operate in a policy gray area by taking advantage of new features in ways that aren’t explicitly prohibited. These developers need to carefully weigh the risk of having their applications shut down when considering how to allocate production resources. They should also create contingency plans for how their apps could become more policy compliant in preparation for being given a short deadline to change or be removed from the Platform.

On a lighter note, the Developers Blog unveiled a finished logo (seen above) for Operation Developer Love, Facebook’s campaign to improve its relationship with third-parties working on the Platform.