Facebook Platform team offers rules and suggestions for developers

In an effort to consolidate Facebook Platform policies (which are quickly becoming about as long as the US tax code for many marketers and developers – click here for help), the Facebook Platform team has created two new pages on the Developer Wiki that are a must read for anyone who wants to succeed on the Facebook Platform.

First, the Thou Shalt Nots:

Facebook has created the Platform Policy page which describes Facebook’s philosophy on user experience, enumerates the rules developers must follow (quoted below), and explains the possible punitive actions Facebook may take against rule breaking developers (and how to correspond with Facebook if Facebook notifies you about a potential problem).

Here’s the list of things apps are not allowed to do:

  1. Generate any notification, request, invitation, News Feed story, Mini-Feed story, profile box content, or message on behalf of a user that misrepresents that user’s activity in any way. All representations of action taken by a user must correspond to actions a user has initiated within your application.
  2. Represent themselves or any features of the application as Facebook, such as using Facebook product terms like “wall” or “message” to refer to something other than Facebook’s functionality of the same name, unless there is an agreement in writing to the contrary.
  3. Express or imply any affiliation or relationship with or endorsement by Facebook.
  4. Contain anything designed to mislead, confuse, or defraud the user in any way.
  5. Present a user with a subsequent friend invite page if the user has already clicked a Facebook-rendered Skip, Cancel, or Skip This Step button, unless the user explicitly selects to invite friends from a page that offers more than just the friend invite option. If the application presents the user with a friend invite page that does not include a Facebook-rendered Skip, Cancel, or Skip This Step button, the application must offer some navigation option to leave the friend invite process, and the application must not present the user with a subsequent friend invite page unless the user explicitly selects to invite friends from a page that offers more than that single option.
  6. Include JavaScript actions pretending to be user actions.
  7. Track visits to a user’s profile, whether aggregated anonymously or identified individually.
  8. Contain functionality that exceeds the dimensions of the canvas page.
  9. Publish stories in which the user is a passive actor. The user must be the person performing the action in order to generate a story about that user. In technical terms, this means the feed.publishTemplatizedAction API method ignores the actor_id parameter and uses the session key to generate the feed story.
  10. Promote other applications in notifications in order to pool notifications together and work around the limit of 20 notifications per user per application each day.
  11. Put links into feed stories and notifications that trick users into installing another application.
  12. Tag images, nor encourage users to tag images, when the tag does not accurately label what is depicted in the image.
  13. Store API data about a user unless the the application clearly gives the user the choice to submit the data, and the user agrees. It must be made clear to the user prior to submission that this data will be stored by the application/developer, and not by Facebook.
  14. Use another user’s session key when making a call to the Facebook Platform API. You must use the session key of a user who is actively using the application.

And now, the Thou Shalls:

Facebook has created the Best Practices page, offering Facebook’s guidance for architecting, designing, branding, cross promoting, and monetizing your apps. For details on each of these topics, check out:

Most of these are pretty fundamental. I found Facebook’s tips for monetizing your app interesting:

  1. Advertising: this generally amounts to delivering advertising impressions to users engaged with your application canvas pages. The model is simple, and so are Facebook’s rules:
    • Your application, including any embedded advertising, can’t contain any adult content or illegal content, gambling, promotion or sale of alcohol / tobacco / firearms, or generate spam.
    • Your application cannot place any advertising on a user’s profile page.
      You can find more specific details in the Facebook Platform Applications Guidelines, part of the Facebook Developer Terms of Service.
      Several third-party ad networks already offer support for advertising inside Facebook applications, which you can take advantage of to quickly start monetizing.
  2. Partnering with brand advertisers: You can work directly with a brand advertiser to incorporate sponsored elements inside your application or even build a full branded application.
  3. Commission / subscription fees: Some application developers collect a commission or transaction fee on activities such as e-commerce or transferring money, or a subscription fee for content or access to functionality.
  4. Using your application for cross-promotion: If your application has access to a large number of users, other application developers may want to embed advertising content for their own application inside yours.
  5. External investment: And, of course, there’s investment from third parties, whether seed funding or full venture capital funding. The funding market is starting to heat up, and we’re excited to see Facebook applications successfully receive investments from external sources.
    • Two of Facebook’s early investors, Accel and Founders Fund, have established fbFund, a grant program designed to encourage as many developers as possible to write innovative new Facebook applications and enable an even broader class of developers to become entrepreneurs. For more information or to apply for a grant, see the fbFund page.

Funny that raising external investment is a recommended monetization option 🙂