Facebook loves developers … but not quite as much as it loves its user data

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Facebook “Operation Developer Love” — Facebook’s effort to win the hearts and minds of the app-developer community — is in full swing. The company recently delivered some cool updates for developers on payments reporting, subscriptions for apps, a beta program for mobile apps in ads, and a refreshed iOS software development kit.

But a new update to Facebook’s developer policies shows that, while Facebook certainly does love its developers, it loves its data just a little bit more.

As Facebook said in a post on the Developer blog last night:

We’ve updated our policies to further clarify that Facebook Platform cannot be used to export user data into a competitive social network without our permission. Facebook Platform is designed to enable rich social apps, and should not be used as a data export tool. As we explained in September, we offer Download Your Information for users wanting to export their data from Facebook.

But the policy goes a little farther than that. Not only are developers not permitted to export data — which one might think is a reasonable, if hard-core competitive restriction — they also aren’t allowed to link to any of their apps on other platforms.

As the relevant sections of the full policy state:

Competing social networks:

(a) You may not use Facebook Platform to export user data into a competing social network without our permission;

(b) Apps on Facebook may not integrate, link to, promote, distribute, or redirect to any app on any other competing social network.

In other words: Facebook apps should only know about Facebook. And perhaps, if you stretch the meaning of the word “promote,” that could be taken to mean: Don’t even mention your apps on other social networks. Thus ensuring that a Facebook app’s users are Facebook’s users first and foremost … and only secondarily the developer’s users.

It’s not surprising, and it is simply a continuation of an ongoing trend, but it does show a certain insecurity that, before the Great Facebook Stock Debacle of 2012, I’m not sure we would have seen.

That is why they call it a platform, and that is why is it good to be king.

Image credit: Alhovik/ShutterStock


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