spamminess – Stay N Alive

Facebook Kills More Spammy Apps With New Policy Changes

A common technique used by developers to promote their apps very quickly on Facebook has been to tag all of a user’s friends in a photo.  I’ve complained about this before.  If you visit my Facebook Profile and look at the “photos of Jesse” section you’ll notice a few of these.  They’re usually a single image with a bunch of peoples’ photos, saying something like “people who have visited your profile”, or “your top friends”.  Often they’ll add a link in the comments back to the app to get more installs.  Just now, Facebook announced they’re trying to put an end to this practice with the introduction of new policies to their platform.

The most significant change involves this method of spamming a user’s friends through the photo tagging feature in the API.  Previously, any developer could take a list of a user’s friends without the user’s permission and tag them all on behalf of that user, to get their attention. As of today that’s no more – now developers must explicitely ask the user’s permission for each friend individually before tagging them in a photo on their behalf.  This significantly reduces the potential spamminess of this API call, and I’m sure many people will see much less of this photo spam in their inbox.

The second big change Facebook is enforcing involves the number of spammy wall posts you may be receiving on your Facebook wall.  Right now if you visit my Facebook wall you’ll notice several apps have posted there.  Most of these apps have not been given my permission to do so, but, because I’m friends with the individual that used the app, I’m subject to it sharing to my wall.  Much of this was due to the ability for developers to present a list of multiple friends at the same time that a user could select from and post to their wall.  The app would say something like, “post to 10 friends’ walls and get 10 points towards your garden”, the user would be encouraged to spam their friends, and more spam would appear on the walls of those users.

Now, Facebook is requiring developers to only invite one friend at a time.  No longer will users be able to select from a list of multiple at a time to spam their friends.  Also, users must explicitly have approved the app to publish that entry.  I expect much less spam will result.

Of course, all of this is dependent on Facebook’s enforcement of the measures, but Facebook is known to be pretty good at this.  Even as a developer, I welcome the new rules and the potential of a cleaner Facebook.  Let’s hope this improves the overall environment.