Facebook Platform Policies Updates - 'No Linking' to Competitors

Facebook on July 27th, has made some noteworthy changes to its policies, adding a couple of new terms developers need to take into account when building applications for the Platform, as well as deleting the two Platform policies this week.First, the following two Platform policies were deleted:FPP IV.4: You must provide users with an easily […]

Facebook on July 27th, has made some noteworthy changes to its policies, adding a couple of new terms developers need to take into account when building applications for the Platform, as well as deleting the two Platform policies this week.

First, the following two Platform policies were deleted:

FPP IV.4: You must provide users with an easily identifiable "skip" option whenever you present users with an option to use a Facebook social channel.

"We removed this section because it's no longer necessary in light of our existing policy which requires that apps obtain user consent whenever publishing on a user's behalf."

FPP IV.5: You must not provide users with the option to publish more than one Stream story at a time.

This deleted to open up opportunities for apps to enable a user to share a story on more than one friend's Wall at a time. Publishing multiple Stream stories via a single share option can be an effective tool in enabling communication among friends and creating a more natural sharing flow for the user. Examples of positive use cases are enabling users to share gift cards, events, and concert tickets that they've purchased for more than one friend, without requiring the user to click on multiple share options.

Facebook says that you can now use any app which you're a developer of to generate access_tokens to run the APIs on the Graph API Explorer.

Here're two items that were added to the Platform Policy:

"I.10. Applications may reward users with virtual currency or virtual goods in exchange for user actions that do not involve third parties, but rewards for user actions that involve third parties must be powered by Facebook Credits by integrating Facebook Credits offers.

For example, you may not reward users with virtual currency or virtual goods in exchange for any action in which personally identifiable information is shared with a third party, you may not reward users with virtual currency or virtual goods in exchange for third party downloads, such as toolbars or ringtones, and you may not reward users with virtual currency for engaging in passive actions offered by third parties, such as watching a video, playing a mini-game, or taking an anonymous poll."

[…]

"I.11. Apps on Facebook may not integrate, link to, promote, distribute, or redirect to any app on any other competing social platform."

This is another step to force Facebook Credits upon application developers, who can now no longer provide users with virtual currency in exchange for playing a game, participating in a poll or watching a video provided by a third party.

Facebook is specifically saying that any app that runs on its platform is prohibited from integrating, mentioning or in any way linking to any app on any competing social platform. This is in line with Facebook's advertising guidelines, which state that ads that promote competing products or services will be rejected.

This appears to be a very broad measure that could potentially affect legions of apps that redirect or in any other way link to sites such as Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, hi5, Flickr, and a wide range of other social networking services. It may not be Facebook's intention of going after these, for what it's worth, Facebook says it hasn't banned any apps based on the new terms to date.

A Facebook spokesperson posits:

As many companies do, we have policies that prohibit apps from directing users to apps on competing social platforms. We recently updated these policies to ensure they're clear for developers building on our platform.

What the updated Platform policy means for apps that link to stand-alone websites or Web apps - say, Twitter.com - remains vastly unclear, too. Clearly, the new terms restrict developers from linking in any way to platforms that compete with Facebook's core social networking service.

Here's what Alex St. John, president and CTO of hi5 Networks, had to say about the new terms:

They're absolutely terrified of other networks like hi5, WildTangent, and Google+ doing a better job of building a social graph, entertaining their audience, and making more money from their users!

They aren't giving developers a chance to grow audience for their games outside of Facebook. And this mention of Facebook Credits clearly shows how terrified they are of other platforms, like SocioPay, being able to monetize their audience better than them.

Reference: Facebook Platform Policies

[Source: Facebook Developers]