Incentivized Invites No Longer Allowed on the Facebook Platform

Facebook’s recent policy update prohibiting incentivized invites, originally announced on July 21, has now gone into effect.

The latest announcement takes Facebook’s February policy update forbidding forced invites further by no longer permitting applications to offer incentives to users for sending invitations to their friends. For example, in game apps where the aim is to accumulate gold, developers have introduced mechanisms whereby users are given more gold for each friend they invite. In other applications, developers have only allowed users to unlocks various features as they invite more friends. Both of these behaviors are now prohibited.

Application developers have been asking for more detail on the Platform Policy in the Developers Forum, and the Facebook Platform team has offered valuable clarifications in responses there. Specifically:

  • Facebook says that incentivized invites fall within this policy, but actions within an application do not: “Incentivizing sending a notification is prohibited, but incentivizing an app action (like SuperPoking) is not banned (even if that action typically leads to a subsequent notification).  On the other hand, if an app provides bonus points for inviting friends, or just for sending notifications, that would be a violation.”
  • Yesterday, the platform team issued this further explanation: “As noted in the blog post, the new policies prevent applications from creating artificial or inappropriate incentives to use Facebook features (including, for example, sending requests and adding profile boxes). Generally, awarding money, or bonus points that can be used to do things in the application or elsewhere, for sending invitations or for the acceptance of invitations, falls under the intended scope of what is prohibited by the policies.”

This new policy isn’t necessarily bad news for developers as some may expect. Facebook is continuing its efforts to improve the quality of messages that applications generate within Facebook communication channels, which should improve the conversion rates of app messages throughout the Platform as a whole.

Kristian Segerstråle, CEO of social gaming company Playfish, welcomes the new guidelines. “We think these changes are an important step forward to improve the overall user experience for games on Facebook and ultimately make the social games market grow faster. We are active supporters of Facebook’s new guiding principles for apps and are working through all our games to ensure we adhere to their spirit,” he told us.

We’ll be staying on top of any further guidance or clarification Facebook issues as it enforces these new policies.