Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Social Network Application Police

Yesterday Myspace announced some changes to limit how "apps" could push virally across a users network. MySpace founder Tom made a rare post regarding these changes on his blog - here. This is similar to the changes Facebook implemented last year in an attempt to limit application developers from creating environments where users are basically creating spam on behalf of the developers/applications.

The new rules include:
  • No incentives may be given to a member for sending a message, bulletin, comment, or any other form of communication. This includes “points,” “bucks,” increased standing, or even features within the app.
  • It must be very clear to a member what they are sending, when they are sending communication. “Share with friends” is not sufficient messaging, the link must state “send comment,” “send bulletin,” and so on.
  • The “no popups” rule we have had in place since day one applies to messaging windows. This means no more popping up a messaging window the first time someone tries to use an app. No popping up messaging windows without a user clicking on a very clearly marked link.
Overall this is good news for users and levels the playing field a little for developers. But I know a few users of popular apps that won't like it too much. They may not be in the vocal majority but I've heard from many that are enjoying the popular "Own Your Friends" app that part of the fun of the game is amassing $$$ by getting friends to download the app (the more money you have the more friends you get to "own"). So I am left wondering if there is a place in between, can we build a social application rule-set that enables this kind of use case without "harming the network?

Its unclear how MySpace will administer these changes. Do they expect the network (users) to police the app's and flag them or will they review each app individually? I've posted this queery and will update as soon as I hear......

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