Tuesday, March 02, 2010

When friends spam you - should Facebook charge, close, or moderate its developer program?

One thing that made Facebook very popular is its developer program. This allowed users like you and me who are creative in developing our very own application and share it in the social network for users to try out.

However, since late last year, there were so much abuses committed against this program. This includes:

  • Applications that creates a photo and tag friends, appearing on notifications and not on your Facebook wall. (SIMs, Who's Viewing Your Album?, Who's Viewing Your Profile?)
  • Applications that imitates Facebook's "like" feature. (calling itself "like", "likes", "lika")

What is most common in these spam programs is that they are created in several variants using the same engine or re-uploaded several time using different user profiles. Some are also classified as a virus already.

To counter this, Facebook has now stopped applications from sending us notices. This is an issue especially for users who have authorized specific applications to update them such as NetworkedBlogs. I think what Facebook should prevent from sending spam notifications are those that were not authorized in the first place.

What is the worst thing that can happen to Facebook with these applications?

  • People will get fed up with all the spam and leave.
  • Facebook will face a huge attack that it can't protect itself from - sooner or later.

What can Facebook do?

  • Perhaps it is about time for Facebook to have a fee entry for its developer program, rather than be a free for all. This way, any abuser can be caught, properly identified, and be made accountable for their actions. They can implement a similar approach to developers selling apps in an iTunes store.
  • Moderating application is another option but that may be too many to manage. However, I believe the above, the entry fee, will make abusers think twice if they will join.

We always say that social networking in 2010 will be bigger than ever. If it is all about Facebook, then all I can think about is that the 1st quarter is all about users defending itself from various form of spam attacking the network.