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Facebook cracks down on dodgy third party apps

Focus on spam as Facebook plans changes

Facebook hopes to stop third-party apps engaging in what the social-networking company considers inappropriate actions, three months after it opened its platform to outside developers.

Dave Morin, Facebook's senior platform manager, outlined a series of changes in the capabilities it makes available to external developers in an official blog posting.

In the blog posting, titled 'Change is Coming', Morin states that the changes are designed to create an environment in which the popularity of applications is determined by how useful and entertaining they are.

For example, Facebook wants to stop developers from displaying big boxes in profiles that scream in capital letters messages like 'ADD THIS APPLICATION! ' to visitors, while hiding them from profile owners.

To that end, the latest release of the Facebook Markup Language - version 1.1 - changes how profile boxes display content, removing applications' ability to display profile content to visitors and hide it from profile owners.

"We did this so that the user is always aware of how they are expressing themselves to their friends through your application. This means no more yellow boxes that display 'Add this app!' in the profile box without the user knowing about it," Morin wrote. "We think this will help users make more informed decisions about the profile boxes they choose."

Meanwhile, Facebook will also shift how it measures application popularity in its applications directory away from total users and toward user engagement. "This will help inform users as they make decisions on which applications to add," Morin wrote.

The company will also remove email from a notifications capability for developers to contact users who have adopted their applications. The reason is to crack down on what Facebook considers the spamming of deceptive and misleading notifications to its members.

Earlier this month, Morin posted a blog item about this problem, stating that Facebook had noticed developers misleading users "into clicking on links, adding applications and taking actions".


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