The app economy generates big bucks for Facebook's most prolific developers. Thanks in large part to virtual goods, the companies which develop some of Facebook's most popular apps are reportedly pulling in over $100m/year individually.

But what's good for Facebook's app developers isn't necessarily good for Facebook's users. App developers are understandably willing to go as far as Facebook will allow them to in their quest to acquire more users and generate more revenue.

This has led to a lot of 'app spam' and in some cases, what can only be described as 'app hell'. In the past, Facebook has made changes designed to keep app developers in check but arguably, none of these changes went as far as the changes Facebook announced yesterday.

They are:

  • No more notifications, which app developers loved but which was also the most potent source of 'app spam'.
  • Invitation requests for applications will now be sent to an easier-to-ignore 'Invites' section of the inbox.
  • The boxes tab on user profiles is being tossed.
  • Elimination of the Verified Application Program with more rigid checks of compliance with Facebook's rules across the board.

Developers are being given some goodies in return, such as the ability to acquire email addresses directly from users who install their applications. But overall, the changes announced are unlikely to make the biggest and most successful app developers happy. According to TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, there's talk that these changes could cause 'foot traffic' on some apps to drop by 70%. That might explain why Mark Pincus, the CEO of one of the most successful app developers, Zynga, reportedly cancelled a talk at the Harvard Business School when he learned of what was coming.

But what's potentially bad for Zynga and other developers is not necessarily bad for users. Facebook is the king of social networking right now but the service has arguably been taken over by third party developers. Facebook is trying to find some balance. While Facebook can't turn its back on developers, it's nice to see that it's focusing on the people who matter the most: end users.

Photo credit: Duane_Brown via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 29 October, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)



With micro-payments for virtual goods, social gaming companies have arguably nailed the first successful business model in the entire social media space. 

Facebook's recent layout change seems to be less about improving user experience and more about about grabbing a piece of the social gaming action. By limiting viral marketing opportunities, Facebook is in effect pushing 3rd party apps (like games) to promote via paid advertising. As the emerging gaming platform of choice, isn't Facebook better off implementing their own micropayments solution instead of limiting the tools these companies have relied on for growth? 

over 8 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy


I think there's some truth to the argument that Facebook is helping itself by making it harder for app developers to market their apps virally, but I do believe that, whatever the motivation, the app spam has risen to out-of-control levels and probably should be reigned in regardless. Most of the feedback I've seen posted around the blogosphere from end users (or people looking at the changes from the perspective of end users) has applauded the changes.

over 8 years ago



What are the most popular apps on Facebook?

over 8 years ago


Karen Lynn

I would much rather have it the way it was before -- I DO NOT want my e-mail given to ANYONE. I do not publish it on my Facebook page. Is there an option to have that restricted? If not, let them keep sending crap to my Facebook page instead.

over 8 years ago

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