Platform Updates: Facebook App Co-regs, Cracking Down on Notification Spam

The Facebook Platform team notified developers this week of both an upcoming Platform feature and tighter monitoring of developers’ use of one of Facebook’s key viral channels.

In a note on Friday, Facebook wrote,

We wanted to give you a heads-up that we’re designing a new promotional opportunity that’ll give your users who aren’t on Facebook yet a streamlined way to sign up on Facebook and immediately start using your Facebook application. Over the next few weeks, we’ll try this out with a few beta partners, and will use their feedback to refine and improve the experience both for application developers and for our users. We’re working to make this capability available to all Facebook developers as soon as possible.

This essentially means that Facebook has developed a sort of “co-registration” process by which you can send your website visitors to a URL to register for Facebook, and upon registration, those users will automatically have your application installed as well. Providing default application installation is a nice incentive for those application developers reaching demographics not already on Facebook.

In a separate note earlier in the week, Facebook sent a warning to the developer community to stop abusing “notifications,” a previously second-tier messaging channel in Facebook that has become the primary way applications communicate with new users. Facebook said,

Over the last few weeks we have noticed several developers misleading our users into clicking on links, adding applications and taking actions. While the majority of developers are doing the right thing and playing by the rules, a few aren’t – and are creating spam as a result. Going forward, if you are deceptively notifying users or tricking them into taking actions that they wouldn’t have otherwise taken, we will start blocking these notifications. [emphasis added] The bottom line is that if the notifications you send are the result of a genuine action by a Facebook user and that action is truthfully reported to the recipient so they can make an informed decision, you should have no problems. If you do find some notifications blocked, it was probably because this wasn’t the case and we will be happy to inform you of some best practices by other developers that have prevented this issue.

Facebook will have a tough balancing act on its hands making subjective decisions on what constitutes “a genuine action”. However, as is usually the case, a very small percentage of developers are creating most of the problems, so cracking down on abuse should be a strong net positive for the entire developer community.