Facebook Takes on Top Friends

With the impending launch of the new Facebook profile design there are a lot of new features beginning to emerge. One of the new features that emerged tonight is the addition of Top Friends functionality to the friends area in a user’s profile. You can now select the number of friends you’d like to have displayed (6, 9 or 12) and choose to also force specific friends to be displayed each time. Sound familiar? It’s extremely similar to the functionality that Slide’s Top Friends application already has.

Top Friends was also recently shut down for over a week for privacy violations which revealed profiles of practically any Facebook users by modifying the URL displayed in the user’s internet browser. As Dan Peguine pointed out in a note on Facebook tonight, this is a sign of what Mitch Kapor described at last year’s Community Next event. If you haven’t seen the video, I highly recommend watching it.

He suggested that we will begin to see increasing tension between application developers and Facebook as specific features get built into the platform which resemble existing applications. Was the shutdown of Top Friends a prelude to the release of this new feature? Honestly, associating the shutdown of Top Friends and the release of this new feature is misleading. It is clear though that the conflict between applications developers and Facebook will continue as the platform evolves.

It is simply the result of having a platform which isn’t completely open. Ultimately the platform will never be completely open just as the U.S. will never have a completely free market. It simply the platform’s nature. For now, this is just one more action that highlights the trend of application/platform conflict.

Facebook New Friends Design Screenshot