Facebook Placing Limits on App Virality

Valleywag has a letter from an anonymous Silicon Valley developer today whose startup has allocated significant resources to developing for the Facebook Platform only to find it harder than expected for their apps to spread “Top Friends”-style because of new limits being placed on app virality by Facebook.

Specifically, the developer bemoans the fact that while Facebook allowed users to invite all of their friends at once to add an application in the days following the Platform launch, Facebook has subsequently limited application-friend-inviting to 10 at a time and since again recently to 10 invitations per day.

This has indeed had significant impact on Facebook developers, including companies I’m working with. It partially impedes the most attractive aspect of building for the Platform – the chance to ride an incredible distribution model to faster success than was ever before possible (though Feed items are not impacted by these changes). The rocket ship is starting to feel more risky – while there’s a chance you could still make it into orbit, a lot more people are going to be struggling to make it out of the atmosphere.

We all realize that we have no natural right to Facebook’s users, but what we do want is an equal playing field and transparency, and a lot of us feel deceived into thinking that Facebook would continue to allow for the sort of virality they now have taken away.

It’s important to remember that Platform is still very early, very 1.0 – this is not the last time they will tweak their model, nor is it the last time that entrepreneurs should consider the risk when investing in the Platform. Facebook will always do what’s best for their users and their bottom line – and if that means capping Feed items, Invitations, or Notifications, they will. At the same time, it’s important to remember that when application developers succeed, Facebook succeeds. It’s your choice to decide how much risk you’re going to take this early in the game.


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