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Using Feedback to Shape Distribution

July 7, 2011ByMike Vernal

Our primary goal with Facebook Platform is to help developers build great social experiences for users.

To prevent spam and other bad user experiences, we have systems in place that constantly monitor user feedback about apps. Historically, if an app crosses a threshold of negative feedback, our systems have automatically disabled the app.

We recently launched some changes to those systems that over-weighted certain types of user feedback, causing us to erroneously disable some apps. While we quickly re-enabled those apps, we realize that any downtime has a significant impact on both our developers and users. Many of our developers have chosen to build their businesses on top of Facebook, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Today we're launching improvements to our enforcement systems that will provide more user feedback directly to developers and will use that feedback to shape app distribution in a more granular way:

  • Better User Feedback Metrics. Today, we're starting to rollout a “News Feed” tab in Insights to show you both positive user feedback (e.g., comments, likes, clicks) and negative user feedback (e.g., hides, marks as spam) on your content. The red and green areas of these graphs will provide guidance on whether your app is generally in good standing or whether your app is receiving a significant amount of negative feedback. We will be adding more granular Insights for other channels in the coming months.
  • Granular Enforcement. When our systems detect an excessive amount of negative user feedback, we will look to disable only the impacted social channel. For example, if an app is generating a lot of negative feedback via chat messages, we will take action only on that app's ability to publish to chat but otherwise leave the app intact. Developers will be able to appeal these granular enforcement actions.
  • New Disabled Mode. If we need to disable an app (e.g., it is receiving negative feedback across multiple channels), it will now be placed into a disabled mode rather than being deleted. While disabled, users will not be able to access the app, but the developer will still be able to access and test the app, edit settings, and view Insights. Developers will continue to be able to appeal having an app disabled.

While we think providing more granular user feedback will help developers build better experiences, it's important to note that our systems take hundreds of different factors into account, so there isn't a simple formula to describe how much negative feedback is too much. We recommend that you focus on building great social experiences while minimizing negative experiences and feedback.

In the coming months, we will be moving from per-channel enforcements to a more sophisticated ranking model where the amount of distribution that content gets will be a direct function of its quality. Good content will be seen by more people, poor content will be seen by fewer people (and potentially no one). We think this is the right long-term model, as it rewards apps that focus on great social experiences while minimizing negative experiences.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments below.