While many will remember the first few months after May 2007 as the “wild west” of Facebook Platform application development, 2008 is quickly becoming the year that Facebook pulled back the reigns on application developers in the name of enhancing the user experience. In the last week alone, Facebook has kicked a large portion of application boxes off of profile pages and limited the distribution of news feed stories to friends who don’t have the application installed.
Tonight, Facebook’s Paul Jeffries announced that Facebook is taking a more proactive and targeted approach to developers engaging in “deceptive or malicious behavior.” Those found violating the Developer Terms of Service are being punished by cutting off key viral channels — the Mini Feed, News Feed, notifications, and more — for an undisclosed period of time. According to Jeffries, “This measured action is in response to multiple violations of Facebook policies, generating an anomalously high level of user complaints.” He writes,
The vast majority of the Facebook developer community is well-intentioned and unlikely to ever be impacted by an enforcement action; we strive to work with developers to correct any issues we discover. But where necessary, as today, we will act quickly to correct problems and ensure a better Facebook Platform experience for all.
While cutting off feed and notification access is severe punishment, this is the right decision, as Facebook must protect the user experience from malicious developers in order to protect the Platform experience and economy. Facebook did not disclose which or how many applications would be put in the penalty box, nor their specific offenses.