Platform Updates: Platform Policy Checklist, App Request Notifications Lead to Apps, HTTPS for Page Tabs, Hack Europe

Facebook’s latest updates to the Developers Blog announced a new policy checklist for app developers, that users are now directed straight to an app when they click through notifications from app requests, the need for developers to fill in their HTTPS URL for their iframe apps, several Facebook-hosted events for developers in Europe, and a few other FQL changes and functionality additions.

Platform Policies Checklist

Developers curious as to whether their apps violate any of Facebook’s terms of service or Platform policies can now refer to the Platform Policy Checklist. Available as a .PDF in several languages for review before an app’s launch, the list includes privacy, data, content, social channel, branding, and functionality guidelines in easy-to-understand terms. Some of the policies that are more frequently violated, such as rewarding users for inviting or sharing with friends, allowing users to publish more than one news feed story per day, or using data about users in ads are all clearly prohibited.

The Checklist will help reduce support and developers forum inquiries by answering some frequently asked questions. The document also will make it difficult for developers to claim that they didn’t know that their app violated Facebook’s terms or exploited users, and will therefore make policy enforcement more straightforward.

One policy that has been hazy before –the prohibition of “concepts or features that undermine the Facebook product” — includes examples such as “don’t encourage users to tag anything other than real people” and  “don’t notify users of friend remove”. This could be referenced in the future as a reason for Facebook banning certain apps that don’t necessarily violate another specific policy. Developers should by happy to have this resource, as reviewing it during conceptual planning for an app could save them a lot of time and money that might be wasted creating an app that gets disabled soon after launch.

App Request Notifications Lead to Apps

Last month, Facebook introduced Requests 2.0, a system that allowed for user-generated and app-generated requests to be sent that trigger notifications for the recipient. Previously, these notifications led to the Games Dashboard or Applications Dashboard where users could manage their requests, but they weren’t leading to reengagement as they were designed. To increase the reengagement spurred by these requests, users are now brought directly to a canvas app when they click the notification generated by an app’s request.

The change makes requests a much more valuable viral channel to developers, and should boost MAU numbers since it pushes users to manage requests from within apps, not the dashboards.

HTTPS URLs for Page Tab Apps

In January, Facebook launched the option for users to browse the site over HTTPS for increased security. It also added a Secure Canvas URL field that developers needed to fill out to allow their apps to be browsed through HTTPS, otherwise Facebook would show users a confirmation screen to inform them they’d have to browse over standard HTTP.

In February, Facebook began allowing Pages to display iframe apps, but if users had HTTPS enabled, iframe Page tab apps would be blank when loaded and would not appear in a Page’s navigation menu. A bug report was filed on March 16th and it received a number of up-votes from developers.

On March 17th, Facebook introduced a new field in the developer app called “Secure Tab URL” to the Facebook Integration section of the Developer app. Developers must fill in this field, or users won’t be able to see or access their app in Page tab form.

Supressing Auto-Generated Photo Stories

Facebook app developers can now suppress the auto-generated stories that appear on a user’s profile when they upload a photo through the app. This wayif a developer wants to publish a story about the photo, perhaps after a user has edited it through the app, there won’t be two similar stories stacked on a user’s wall. This will lead more users to click through the app’s version of the photo instead of being split between the two, exposing more users to a link back to the app. Developers simply add the no_story=1 parameter to the POST to suppress the story and prevent redundancy.

Affiliations Year and Status to be Deprecated

Facebook users could previously list a year and status as part of a network affiliation. Since the network could be a school, which has its own year and status fields under education history, users could enter conflicting data into the two instances of the year and status fields. To resolve this, Facebook will strip the year and status fields from the affiliation column of the user FQL table on April 18th because affiliations “was less up to date and had worse coverage” than the education fields.

Facebook Developers Events in Europe

Several Facebook-hosted events will occur in Europe this month, allowing independent developers and startups in the region to build apps, meet peers and venture capitalists, discuss the Platform, and learn about technical updates from Facebook’s team.

HACK Berlin on March 25th will include panels and a judged hackathon. Facebook Developer Garage Paris on March 29th will include a mixer and an introduction to Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s new Head of Platform Partnerships for France and Benelux. Startup Day London on March 31st will allow Facebook team members, VCs, and employees of socially-focused startups to get to know each other.