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New Design, New Powers, New Responsibilities

July 21, 2008ByPaul C. Jeffries

With the launch of the new Facebook site comes all sorts of great ways for applications to deeply integrate into user profiles, and increase communication and interaction with users. Today we share a set of new policies to help developers better understand our intentions in offering these enhancements. We've tried to be as specific as possible but ask that you follow the spirit and not just the letter of these rules.

  • Facebook is about empowering and connecting people through the sharing of information. That's undermined if users who receive an invitation or other communication suspect it was sent for an ulterior motive, such as gaining points in a game. Similarly, because users represent themselves through their profile, they shouldn't be goaded into adding a tab or other integration point just to see content they could have seen anyway, or in trade for some unrelated benefit.

    There is an implicit social contract you should respect as a facilitator of user-to-user interactions, and in the trusted relationship you have with your user. Therefore, we are introducing new policies to prevent applications from creating artificial or inappropriate incentives to use Facebook features (including, for example, sending requests and adding profile boxes). We're also extending the existing prohibition on unnecessary gating of application features or information, to including permissions and integration points.

  • Application integration points empower users to represent themselves or gain value through applications. Developers can have links to these features in their application (so navigating to the link leads to a prompt for a permission), but they should not intrude on the user's experience by prompting for a permission if doing so isn't appropriate in the natural flow of events.

  • As is the case today with application profile boxes, advertising cannot appear on the newly launched features that deeply integrate into profiles (tabs, Publisher, and application info sections). Developers can continue to run advertising on canvas pages and monetize their applications in other ways.

  • Notifications and Feed stories should be timely, accurate, informative, valuable, non-deceptive, and anticipated by the sender. They can contain calls to action, which are sometimes great ways to stimulate engagement and sharing of information. But to do that, they must be on-topic, oriented towards the user's interest, and non-spammy.

Most of the policies we're announcing today apply to features being introduced with the new profile. We ask that in your implementation on you immediately abide by all previously published applicable policies. All policies published today that cover newly launched features (such as Feed forms, Publisher, application tabs, additional permissions, etc.) should be adhered to by noon Pacific time 28 July 2008 (after which you may be subject to enforcement), except the no-advertising rules, which apply immediately.

Some new policies apply to existing features as well: for example, not incentivizing requests, and using only appropriate calls to action in notifications and Feed stories. We are in the midst of a transition period, where the new site is available on an opt-in basis, but both are running concurrently. To best accommodate your transition efforts during this time, we will delay enforcement of new policies pertaining to existing features until noon Pacific time 11 August 2008. But these rules are in the best interest of users and we hope you'll comply as soon as possible; in special cases we may reach out asking for faster action, so as always please monitor the contact email address you've set for official Facebook notices.

We're looking forward to all the creative ways developers will deploy the new powers of Facebook Platform. Please read the new policies carefully and feel free to reach out with any feedback or requests for clarification. For confidential matters write us at But otherwise please use the Developer Forum, where we'll be participating and the whole community can join in.

Paul leads the Platform Developer Operations & Support team.