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Growing Quality Apps with Open Graph

October 10, 2012ByHenry Zhang

Update: To clarify, the majority of custom actions will continue to be approved and function as normal. The changes announced below only impact custom actions for apps that publish stories as content is consumed. For example, if you have an app that publishes a "view" action to timeline and news feed each time some looks at videos on your site, you must migrate to the appropriate built-in action - "watch" - to provide a consistent user experience. For more information on what is considered a content consumption action please see the matrix in our Open Graph guidelines.

Over the past six months we've launched new channels, such as App Center with our improved recommendations engine, to drive distribution to the highest quality apps. As part of these ongoing updates, today we're releasing improvements to how we present Open Graph stories in news feed and on timeline to drive growth and engagement to your app.

In order to provide users with experiences that meet their expectations, we will no longer approve custom actions that publish stories as people consume content. These apps must use the appropriate built-in actions or create a different sharing experience. We are also deprecating a handful of features that led to low quality user experiences.

Our goal is to help you build quality apps that people will love. On average, Open Graph stories now have 50% higher click through rates than similar stories published using non-Open Graph API’s (stream.publish). To help you build great Open Graph apps, we are also releasing new Open Graph guidelines and clarifying our Platform Policies to better reflect our expectations.

Additional distribution from news feed and timeline

We've found stories with image and location to be among the most engaging, and so we’re making them more prominent in news feed and on timeline.

In early tests, the new image-led stories have shown 70% more clicks for apps that provide high quality, relevant imagery with low spam rates. In certain cases, we have seen these stories generate up to 50x more Likes than equivalent story types from before. The new location stories provide double-digit gains in distribution to apps.

By using Open Graph, you can benefit from all the improvements in news feed and timeline to drive better distribution to your app. Comparable stories published using non-Open Graph API's, such as stream.publish, will continue to be presented in the old format.

To take advantage of these changes, incorporate relevant images and location tags with your Open Graph actions. For more information, please see our documentation on distribution.

Deprecating features that lead to low quality user experiences

Apps that help people automatically share stories about content as they consume it, such as the music you are listening to, can be good experiences when apps create clear expectations for the user of what is being shared and when. When apps automatically publish stories on a person’s behalf in a way that is unexpected, such as when they browse an online store, it can surprise and confuse people.

Starting today, custom actions that automatically publish back to Facebook as a person consumes content in your app will no longer be approved. We will only allow apps that use our built-in actions to automatically publish stories as content is consumed. With built-in actions, we understand the structure of the information and can ensure a better user experience by specializing story formats that can help set user expectations. Apps that currently use a custom content consumption action must migrate to use an applicable built-in action in the next 90 days. If you cannot find an applicable built-in, we encourage you to build a different experience that helps people share meaningful stories with friends on Facebook.

Additionally, we are deprecating the following features, which user feedback has shown to lead to low quality user experiences.

  • Authenticated referrals create an inconsistent experience for people by asking them to give permissions in order to access content with little context. You must migrate to use a standard Auth Dialog experience.

  • Post to friends wall via the API generate a high levels of negative user feedback, including “Hides” and “Mark as Spam" and so we are removing it from the API. If you want to allow people to post to their friend’s timeline from your app, you can invoke the feed dialog. Stories that include friends via user mentions tagging or action tagging will show up on the friend’s timeline (assuming the friend approves the tag).

Apps that currently use custom content consumption actions, Authenticated referrals, or post to friends wall via the API must migrate to an alternative in the next 90 days. We have updated the Platform Roadmap to reflect this change.

Clear guidance

More information on building high quality apps can be found in the new Open Graph guidelines, including our views on quality and the attributes we look for when evaluating your submission.

We have also updated our Platform Policies (section III.A.6.) to make clear that you are responsible for providing users with a quality experience and must not confuse, defraud, mislead, spam or surprise users.

We’re excited by the increased quality of apps we are seeing and look forward to helping you grow.