Why Facebook Is Blocking Off Certain Apps
Facebook has blocking certain apps because it says that it is just protecting its assets. Facebook declares that an app which does not add value to Facebook should not be able to access the social network's data. Of all their data sets, Facebook’s social graph is the one thing that’s truly distinctive. Facebook has spent several years getting you to validate who you know, and it sounds as if it does not want to hand over your friend list to competitors any more. This week it discontinued both Twitter’s new photo app Vine and messaging app Voxer from Find Friends, that lets you connect with Facebook friends on other apps.
Facebook has explained the Voxer issue in its own way. Users have an option to post an audio message they have put over Voxer on to Facebook. But this option is mostly buried and you would not be able to find unless you have searched Voxer’s help documents. If you slide a previously sent message, you can see a share button by which your message can be posted to Facebook, Twitter, SMS, or email. Thus Voxer is really pulling away more data from Facebook than it is giving Facebook back. Facebook says that if a messaging app is not sharing anything back then it qualifies as a competitor and in such a case it will only be able to use Facebook’s login system. Facebook says that it would block all apps which it sees as non-contributing competitors Voxer being one of the examples.
This new policy of Facebook is putting the start-ups in a dilemma which deal with private messages. What do they share back that does not violate their policies? Obviously private messages can never become news feed stories.
Reconfirming your social graph manually would be very annoying. If Facebook accounts were to reset and you had to send friend requests to again to all your old friends how many do you think would re-confirm? The number would decrease dramatically for even your best friends would be too lazy and people who you met years ago might not remember you now and naturally would not bother about the friend request. Facebook has offered Find Friends for years but those were the years when it was just a web-based social networking site. But today it’s much more than just that or at least it wants to be.
Data portability came to the forefront first in 2010 when Facebook debarred Twitter from using its Find Friends characteristic. Later that year it got into a row with Google too about exporting contact lists. Google was angered that Facebook was siphoning its contacts but was not giving access to its friends list in return. Facebook later offered to let download data but it included friends list only in plain text which was not very helpful.
Creating such restrictions can give rise to a barrier around Facebook which creates an obstacle for competing companies for growth. These enforcements mean that Facebook is no longer an open platform. If companies are worried that Find Friends or other Facebook data can be taken away from them could create a bad effect on development on Facebook platform. You do not want to build an app which relies on Facebook data if you fear that you could disappear.
With these policy change enforcements Facebook is literally playing with fire. These enforcements scare off developers whose apps would have otherwise provided content that could be shown next to ads in the news feed and contributed to Graph Search. Facebook may get damaged badly.