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Facebook Businesses Social Networks Software Technology

Facebook To App Developers: Good Idea, Now Stop Using Our API 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-ideas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In what seems to be a recurring theme with Facebook as the social networking giant adds features, competing apps that use Facebook integration risk being cut off due to the terms of service surrounding the API. For example, 'Voxer CEO Tom Katis told AllThingsD that the company got an email on Thursday saying that Facebook wanted to hold a phone call to discuss possible violations of a section of the company’s terms of service. The section in question centers around the use of Facebook’s social graph by competing social networks.' Similarly, 'Within hours of Twitter launching its Vine video-sharing application on Thursday, Facebook has cut off access to Vine’s "find people" feature, which used to let Vine users find their Facebook friends using the Vine application.' You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?"
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Facebook To App Developers: Good Idea, Now Stop Using Our API

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  • What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:32PM (#42730815)

    Why does Facebook even offer an API to developers if any time an app becomes popular they block them?

  • by Manfre (631065) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:34PM (#42730843) Homepage Journal

    Obviously not.

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:34PM (#42730845)

    You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?"

    If Facebook pays me: Sure.

  • Um, DUH? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:35PM (#42730871) Homepage

    Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else, especially someone else who you view as a competitor or who may down the road view you as a competitor, without an iron-clad, air-tight contract guaranteeing exactly what services they'll provide you and providing scorched-earth-level penalties for their failure to provide service according to the agreed-upon terms? Anything less is pretty much a guarantee that they'll pull the rug out from under you as soon as they think it'll be to their advantage. I'm not a business type or some super startup guru, just a lowly techie, but even I can figure that one out. Gleh, what do they teach in school these days? That the Universe is all rainbows and unicorns and that everybody plays nice all the time?

    • Re:Um, DUH? (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:45PM (#42731007)

      The thing is, there was never a need for Voxer or Vine to tie into facebook in the first place. Facebook provides nothing to either app.
      I've seen this a sort of mentality a hundred times on apps in the Android Play store. Diet apps, health apps, personal finance apps, all tying into Facebook, which is arguably the last place you want apps sharing private information.

      These developers just arbitrarily toss that crap in to be part of the in-crowd.

      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:53PM (#42731127)

        The idea was that you would go into Vine, Vine would search your facebook profile for friends of yours who were also using Vine and add them to Vine's friend list for you. That is providing real functionality. Now you have to manually search for and enter each of your friends one by one. So no, they aren't just jumping on the bandwagon, they are using the information from the Facebook API in a way that is so incredibly obvious that the fact that it is blocked makes you wonder what the hell the API was supposed to be fore in the first place.

        • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:59PM (#42731191)

          Except that nobody wants to exchange vine recordings with all their "friends" on facebook, most of which most people hardly know.

          People want to send Vine movies to a FEW people, who you ALREADY have in your phone's contacts and address book. Nobody wants to receive vine movies from just anyone.

          There is no value in that linkage.

        • by erice (13380) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:44PM (#42732235) Homepage

          The idea was that you would go into Vine, Vine would search your facebook profile for friends of yours who were also using Vine and add them to Vine's friend list for you. That is providing real functionality. Now you have to manually search for and enter each of your friends one by one. So no, they aren't just jumping on the bandwagon, they are using the information from the Facebook API in a way that is so incredibly obvious that the fact that it is blocked makes you wonder what the hell the API was supposed to be fore in the first place.

          From Facebook's perspective, the API is supposed to make being on Facebook more valuable and, therefore, help to retain users. Facebook's main asset is isn't user base. Facebook has the users, other sites don't and Facebook would like to keep it that way. Marketing to those users is how Facebook makes its money.

          What you are describing is a migration tool. Once your Facebook friends have been moved to your Vine friends list, Vine doesn't need Facebook anymore and will be competing for those user's attention. I'm pretty sure this is not what Facebook Corporate had in mind.

          When a corporation offers you a API, you need to keep in mind that they are doing it for themselves, not for you. If what you do with the API does not advance the business of the corporation, don't be surprised if they cut you off.

        • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:19AM (#42735529) Homepage Journal

          the _idea_ for vine is to use facebook for marketing vine.

          that's also 100% of "why would it be worthwhile to develope a facebook dependent app?". fact is, most of them don't depend on fb - but they depend on using fb for marketing...

        • by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:00AM (#42735705)

          Basically, Facebook's lock-in is your social graph, and they will fight tooth and nail to stop competitors from letting you export this from Facebook to elsewhere. It's been in the T&Cs since they first had an API.

      • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:36PM (#42731599) Homepage

        The thing is, there was never a need for Voxer or Vine

        You could have stopped here.

    • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:50PM (#42731055)
      If you don't have a SLA and you aren't paying for it - probably isn't the best idea to build your entire business model around it.
    • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:00PM (#42731209)
      Those small dependent fishes that feed upon the big sharks leftovers come to mind.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:07PM (#42731299) Homepage

      Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else

      Because that's where the users are. Facebook has, what, a billion users? If you can shoehorn into some of those, there's opportunity.

      If they go it alone, they'd have to build up all of those users on their own. They're just chasing the money.

      I don't disagree that they run the risk of being screwed by Facebook, but that's hardly new in the tech industry -- Microsoft has taken other products and built them into the OS for years, and the frequently do the same to their partners, team up until they can steal your lunch.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:01PM (#42731883)

      Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else, especially someone else who you view as a competitor or who may down the road view you as a competitor, without an iron-clad, air-tight contract guaranteeing exactly what services they'll provide you and providing scorched-earth-level penalties for their failure to provide service according to the agreed-upon terms?

      Probably because they assume that "on down the road" will be at least a few months, and companies don't seem to be thinking more than a few months ahead. Maybe that's just me, because I still can't see how Twitter makes any sense from a business standpoint. I can't believe they're still going. Evidently they're making money hand over fist. Obviously common sense is somehow the enemy of money when it comes to businesses that do things online with social crap.

    • by devitto (230479) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:03PM (#42731899) Homepage Journal

      Instagram.

      Help the gorilla, but before they squish you, sell your technology (and preferably patents).

    • by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:41PM (#42732193)

      Many many people, and therefor companies, are under the delusion that business is fair. Facebook would never do them wrong, hell they gave me an API right? They ignore what business practices are at the level of Facebook. It's parasitic at worst, thuggery most of the time, and the occasional tip to the waiter when things are just right.

      It's really really hard to explain this to people that are brought up without the ability to see what is actually happening, but rather rely on voices to tell them what they should do.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:44PM (#42732867)

      Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else...?

      And why do people ask rhetorical questions without at least considering the most obvious answer?

      Because there is only one facebook. One ebay. One Microsoft Windows. People don't dance with the devil because they're stupid, they do it because he owns the dance hall and it's either that or sit out in the cold. Even if you are snuffed out in the end, you may still have had more success ($) than if you abstained, and implemented on GNU Hurd instead because it's safer.

      • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:19PM (#42733125) Homepage

        But am I getting more success? I put a lot of time and effort and money into creating the product and setting up the business. And just when I'm beginning to see a return on that investment, that's when I'm most likely to get cut off. So I'm now out all that investment, and while I may have recouped some of it I'm probably looking at a dead loss of at least 50% of my investment. I would've been better off taking the money and putting it in a 12-month CD.

        If the devil owns the dance hall and I know he's going to throw me out in the cold the moment I get a girl to dance with me, why should I even bother? I'll end up out in the cold either way, and the time I don't waste dealing with the devil I can spend talking to the girls who're tired of dealing with the lounge-lizard dance-hall owner who won't let 'em so much as look at anyone else without him cutting in.

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <(VortexCortex) ( ... -retrograde.com)> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:28PM (#42733607)

      Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else, especially someone else who you view as a competitor or who may down the road view you as a competitor, without an iron-clad, air-tight contract guaranteeing exactly what services they'll provide you and providing scorched-earth-level penalties for their failure to provide service according to the agreed-upon terms?

      So, wait, is your question to Facebook app devs, or Windows application developrs?

    • by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:26AM (#42735553)

      Why would you ever design a product that's completely and utterly dependent on a service provided by someone else.

      But this happens all the time in all areas of engineering and business. It's not a bad business model at all. People that base their business model on getting oil from OPEC have gotten rich beyond your dreams doing it, and they don't get 'scorched earth' contracts either (unless they're the US government).

      The problem is that the service provider should know better than scare away mediators of its services. Especially Facebook, who is no OPEC and people can live just fine without it.

    • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:35AM (#42737941)

      Well, moreso because a few people made bank in the apple app store. The same reason millions of people spend money in Vegas, app development on closed ecosystems is a gambler's game.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:35PM (#42730873)
    Most anyone running a business should know to diversify their product offering. Relying on a single platform for Your product is dooming yourself to failure. Relying on a single API, which you don't control, to run your business, is an even bigger mistake.
  • In prison, "work" is the best possible approximation of real work but it is not real work with real responsibilities or control, and there is not real pay and conditions.

    Making an "application" based on a digital prison is an approximation of a real app but based on a false foundation. There is no real control or security over the platform.

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:51PM (#42731081) Homepage Journal
    What exactly is the advantage to the developer?
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @04:57PM (#42731167)

    You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?

    Everybody's on Facebook, so it's much easier for your users to find their friends if your app is integrated with Facebook.

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:05PM (#42731271) Homepage Journal
    As if there was any question?
  • by bhartman34 (886109) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:12PM (#42731361)

    You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?

    No, you don't. The answer should be obvious. It's not worth it.

  • by Dwedit (232252) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:26PM (#42731489) Homepage

    I don't think Facebook would be able to block automatic loading of pages (using the user's current cookies) followed by scraping. An API just makes it much easier to get the data, but you can still scrape whatever they won't let you use.

  • by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:42PM (#42731691)
    It's really handy for a social network to have an API for login purposes alone. I have a site that sees quite a bit of traffic and the "Log in with [Social Network]" feature is useful for casual users. Facebook has always been a pain in the ass with their API. They make unannounced changes every so often that break login functionality. Twitter's API on the other hand, has always worked just fine.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:02PM (#42731887)
    If their API (which I have not seen) lets see more than one in-link or out-link deep, then a crawler could traverse much of the total FB friend network. Their terms of service appear to prohibit crawling. They ASK the app just operate on the user and immediate friends at hand.
  • by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:22PM (#42732657)

    I know that there's this other social networking site called Google +, but hasn't FB already achieved a mass worthy of the attention of anti-trust regulators? This is the sort of action that got Microsoft and lately Google into trouble. Or does one need to pass a certain threshold of dominance to qualify as an evil monopoly?

  • by detain (687995) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:54PM (#42733377) Homepage
    Facebook Integration is intended to add to new things to facebook, or add some features to your sites from facebook such as authentication, adding like/comment type functionality, etc. I don't believe they ever wanted people to utilize the API to display facebook content on other sites or data mine the information just to provide an alternative interface to the same content. Facebook integration is great, it does all kinds of things and they have been pretty good with their API so far. A few people went too far and are rightfully being stopped. Do not make a big deal of this or they are likely to make changes to the actual API, instead of stopping the few people abusing the current one. Again , stop making a big deal out of this before you force Facebook to remove features from the API until nobody can abuse it (and at the same time making it a useless API for anything more than basic features)
  • by youn (1516637) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:35PM (#42733659) Homepage

    ponemon, pokemon :)... looks the same to me

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:27AM (#42735557) Homepage

    That's all I had to say.

  • by Wokan (14062) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:09PM (#42742287) Journal

    No. Didn't you read the subject?

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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