Facebook has added yet another change to the way it does business -- resulting in a slew of angry developers and users.
The social-networking Web site on Tuesday announced a new application-verification program, an optional new system that will give registered application developers a seal of approval -- for a fee.
The move has made developers angry, with some posting their disappointment on Facebook's developer forum. Many developers believe the program is genius, but the fee that comes with the seal of approval is what has them angry.
New Program's Pros
Facebook's program will give developers a way to have their applications stand out and will offer users the knowledge that an application has been verified by the company.
Verified applications will appear with a verification badge or seal of approval, signifying that the application is respectful, transparent and that it met Facebook's "guiding principles for trustworthiness" requirements.
Developers get increased allocations for requests, notifications and e-mails; increased visibility for news-feed stories; a $100 credit in Facebook advertising; and discounted registrations fees to events such as Facebook's F8 Developer Conference.
Verified applications will be popping up and made available to users early next year, according to the company.
The Facebook platform continues to be open and available to any developer who wants to build applications without barriers to entry, according to Facebook spokesperson Sandra Huang. "For all developers who decide not to get their applications verified, they have access to the same integration points and distribution opportunities that have allowed so many developers to grow so quickly and engage users on the latform," Huang said in an e-mail. "And they're able to build and release applications without a formal review, something that is unique for a global platform. They also can continue to be eligible for the application directory after a light review at no cost."
So what's not to like about this new system? A lot, according to developers.
Each time a developer submits an application for verification, he or she must also include a $375 payment to cover the costs associated with the review process, according to Facebook. Developers must also pay a renewal fee of $375 once the twelve-month seal of approval expires.
"What happened to never charging your users to access Facebook? I mean, if you're going to implement something that will hinder an app if it's not part of, I'd call that charging us to access something. Just because we are developers doesn't make us any less users of Facebook," posted developer Christopher Bourton. "I can understand you wanting to cover costs, but wake up, that's why you have ads there; now, if you're going to remove your ads from being shown alongside our app as one of the perks, that is about the only thing I'll think as acceptable to charging that much."
Bourton also said he was worried about Facebook suggesting to users that applications without the verification seal should not be trusted. Another developer, who goes by the name B3, said he fears users already skeptical of applications on Facebook will distrust unverified applications even more.
"This seems unfair -- my application is already well designed, trustworthy and meaningful to thousands of users," B3 writes. "And I've spent a lot of time making it that way. This change could mean that the only viable applications to deploy on [the] Facebook platform are large corporate money-spinners."
Other posters worried about the structure of the platform, which has forced some to develop dozens of smaller apps rather than one large one. If that is the case, a developer submitting 100 small apps rather than one large app will have to pay a $37,500 fee instead of $375.
Then there is the worry of what happens after a developer pays the $375 fee, but its app is not approved.
If an application does not pass verification, Facebook will contact the developer and give instructions on what steps to take next, according to Facebook.
Only two groups duck the full $375 fee -- students and registered nonprofits. Those groups will pay a discounted fee of $175.
Facebook said the fees are necessary. "We believe this is a relatively small investment in the context of the benefits -- increased allocations in our communication channels, badging advertising credits, and discounts to events," Huang said.