Facebook Responds: No more forced invites

Last week I wrote about my annoyance of Facebook Apps forcing people to invite their friends before being able to actually use the App.  While I was browsing my feeds, I found the following good news from Caroline McCarthy on WebWare:

[Facebook Apps that do this are] annoying And now Facebook has done something about it. Developer applications must “offer some navigation option to leave the friend invite process,” according to a change in the social-networking site’s platform policy. If an application’s friend-invite page doesn’t contain one of Facebook’s in-house “Skip This Step,” “Cancel,” or “Skip” buttons, it has to contain an alternative way to navigate away from the friend invite process.  Developers whose applications ignore the new regulations reportedly receive warning letters that threaten shutdown if they fail to comply.

Good riddance! I’m glad to hear that Facebook is responding to critics in this way. Their ability to adapt to issues like these solidifies their position as the “anti-MySpace”. Now only if they could do something about the “we have your data forever” problem…

Facebook Apps have crossed the line

When Facebook opened up their platform last year for developers to integrate applications into their system, I thought they were taking a big risk.  One of the reasons why I (and I believe many) don’t frequent MySpace as much is because it became cluttered with crappy widgets, blaring sounds, – and worst of all – infested with spam.  I was wondering if Facebook was going to follow the same path.  After all, one of the reasons Facebook is attractive is because they have a clean standard interface.

These first few months have proven that Facebook was doing things right.  The apps weren’t too intrusive, were entertaining and allowed people to interact with others in a fun way.  However with thousands of apps now on Facebook and sponsoring companies trying to figure out how they can monetize their efforts, some apps have grown from a minor annoyance to becoming an invasion of privacy.

I always get these invites for the various apps, and usually if I do decide to try one out I’ll consciously hit the "Skip" button when it comes time to ask me friends.  Today however, I encountered my first app that wouldn’t let me proceed without inviting 10 friends to join the app.  Whatver.  This was an anomaly. I didn’t want to avatar’d self anyway.  This evening I got a request from a friend to the "Could you pass the US Citizenship Test?" application.  I was curious, added the application and went through all 20 questions of the test.  Before I could see my results I got encountered with the standard "Invite your friends" page.  Although this time I could not find the "Skip this Step" button. This app required me to sign up 20 friends in order to proceed to see my scores.

Screw you "Could you pass…"  Thanks for wasting my time!  I couldn’t care less about whether you get more Facebook installs, but I don’t think I’m the only one that’s not going to tolerate the shady tactics used by your app (and similar apps using this method).  Right now I can see the thin ice that Facebook is skating on, and they better be pretty careful about controlling the Bacn, or else they’re going to get the MySpace-like backlash.