New Facebook guidelines require news and video apps to wait at least 10 seconds before publishing user activity

Facebook has updated its Open Graph publishing guidelines to require social news and video apps to wait at least 10 seconds before posting “read” or “watch” actions to a user’s Timeline. This will prevent Open Graph applications from being able to publish stories on behalf of users immediately after they click a link.

Facebook seems to be starting to enforce some best practices for social readers and video apps, which have grown extremely quickly but have poor public perception. Many users complain that these applications publish stories that they didn’t mean to share. Although 10 seconds is the minimum amount of time that a user must be on a piece of content before their activity is shared, some developers might want to use an even longer span to ensure that published actions reflect a user’s actual behavior. If a video is 5 minutes long and a user leaves after 20 seconds, for example, the user might resent the app telling their friends that they watched the video.

In a blog post Wednesday, Facebook told developers they should allow users to easily turn sharing on or off, and that the setting should persist. However, it’s unclear if a particular setting should be applied every time a user visits an app or be reset when a user leaves and returns. Spotify, for instance, offers a “private session” mode, but if users close the application and reopen it, their listening activity will reset to sharing.

Users can always change their app settings and delete stories from their activity log, but Facebook is encouraging developers to give users more control from within an app. Open Graph documentation says social reading apps should provide users with an option to remove any “read” stories directly from an article page. For video applications, Facebook says developers must provide the option to remove the activity from the same page the content appears. Video apps must also give the user clear, ongoing, and in-context messaging that their watch actions will be published on Facebook.

Also in Wednesday’s developer update, the social network announced that applications must use the built-in “read” and “watch” actions moving forward. Previously these actions were in beta for certain Open Graph partners. Now no custom “read” or “watch” actions will be accepted, and developers have 90 days to convert their custom actions to the built-in verbs. This will allow all social reader and video activity to be aggregated properly on users’ Timelines and in News Feed. For example, Facebook displays “trending articles” and “trending videos” based on these built-in actions.