This afternoon Facebook announced the Application Verification Program (AVP), a welcomed effort to increase the quality of Facebook applications and perhaps one of a few early moves to monetize the platform.
One of the concerns surrounding the Facebook Platform and platforms of other social networks is the proliferation of perfectly useless applications with only a minimal social slant. To thwart this problem, Facebook produced Guiding Principles for Social Applications in order to describe what constitutes a quality application. In the Guiding Principles, Facebook emphasizes creating meaningful, trustworthy, and well-designed applications.
In the past, though, Facebook dealt with application trust issues when applications took on behavior users didn’t expect. Applications forcing new users to invite other users before the applications could be used became one of the most notorious examples of untrustworthy applications. Needless to say, Facebook users took up their usual mass methods of protest. At last count, the group “Stop forcing me to ‘Invite 20 Friends’!!” had over 601,000 members. The introduction of the Application Verification Program, however, is a great step in the direction of Facebook making concrete their beliefs about their Guiding Principles and actively working to ensure that social applications don’t abuse the masses.
Facebook’s Application Verification Program is a boon to developers, though, as it represents a mark of approval from Facebook itself. Developers who embrace the AVP can partake of the following benefits: a badge that denotes an application as a Facebook-approved application (which can also be used outside of Facebook), increased distribution in the form of greater allocations for notifications and news feed stories, a $100 Facebook advertising credit, and discounts on registration fees to Facebook’s Developer Conference.
Although the Application Verification Program is optional, Facebook is following in the footsteps of another giant in the platform realm–Apple and the iPhone. Apple requires developers to have some skin in the game in the form of a fee ($99 for individuals and $299 for companies) in order to gain access to the ability to offer an application for sale on iTunes. Facebook requires a $375 fee for verification ($175 for students and non-profits). This fee allows an application to be marked as a “Facebook Verified App” for one year. At the end of that year, if the developer wishes to continue with the program, they’ll need to pay the fee again and re-apply.
Right now, developers can express intent to participate in the verification program. Later, they’ll be contacted to submit more in-depth documentation (screenshots, use cases for data pulled from Facebook, etc.) regarding their Facebook application. The verification process will determine whether the application adheres to the Facebook Platform Policies as expected of any application; if the application properly uses integration points such as email, user-to-user notifications, and news feed stories; and if the application adheres to their principles on trustworthy applications.
User reaction remains to be seen, as the benefits of being Facebook-verified won’t be granted until early 2009, but for any potentially useful applications, i.e., applications where money is exchanged, a stamp of approval from Facebook could potentially mean the difference between 5 and 50,000 daily users. Verification, anyone?Category: Launches, News, Social Networking, web 2.0 | Tags: applications, business model, facebook, platform