Facebook's Inherently Restrictive Policies

This morning I was thinking about some features that would actually make the events application on Facebook more useful. Unfortunately though, there are significant limits to what you can access on Facebook events. I took a look at the developer wiki and for instance, the Events.getMembers method has some significant restrictions:

However if you call this method without an active user session, you can only get the events for which your application was the creator; you can see only those event attendees who have authorized your application.

So what if you wanted to build a feature which enhances Facebook events? Unfortunately you can’t. Previously, some applications were developed which extended Facebook’s features and ultimately enhanced them. Under the existing platform, there are now sufficient restrictions to prevent users from enhancing underdeveloped applications that are already on Facebook.

Everyday we hear of a new company that is essentially an additional feature. For example Disqus, offers more robust a more robust commenting functionality for blogs. The WordPress platform makes it easy for applications to build plugins which actually improve existing WordPress functionality. That’s because WordPress is a much more open platform.

This post is not meant to be completely critical of Facebook though. Developers have benefitted greatly from the access they’ve been granted to Facebook’s user base. The only problem is that this access is so limited now that I have to imagine that building a Facebook application is no longer an end game for new developers. Instead it has become more of a marketing opportunity than anything else.

This is a huge opportunity for many brands. Does it make sense though to try to build a Facebook application as a business when you don’t have money to invest in new user installations?