Facebook app verification fee draws criticism

Facebook has launched a program to review applications and grant a seal of approval to those that meet its criteria.

Facebook now gives its developers the option of submitting their applications for review to obtain a seal of approval, but some developers aren't thrilled with the program.

Via its new Application Verification Program, Facebook will review applications according to several criteria, such as their trustworthiness, transparency and overall usefulness.

Developers must pay a US$375 fee to have an application reviewed. If earned, the certification is good for 12 months, after which developers must pay another $375 to be reviewed again.

The initial wave of feedback on the official Facebook discussion forum for developers has ranged from skeptical to outright negative. Developers' main objections seem focused on the amount of the review fee and on the fact that approval lapses after a year.

"I think that the $375 verification fee can be justified if it were a one-time fee. But recurring every 12 months? This will be the big wedge between those apps which get verified and those which don't even apply. I'm very curious to see what percentage of apps get verified," a developer wrote on the forum.

Another one wrote that the financial burden of evaluating applications shouldn't be placed on developers since it is Facebook's decision to allow annoying, spammy and deceitful applications on its site.

"Users already distrust applications on Facebook platform. Now they will distrust unverified applications even more. This seems unfair. My application is already 'well designed,' 'trustworthy' and 'meaningful' to thousands of users," this developer wrote. "Why should I pay $375 a year just because Facebook allowed so many useless, spammy applications in the first place?"

Rival MySpace is trying to get some mileage out of Facebook's decision to charge for its application reviews. "MySpace led the way in creating policies that promote a healthy ecosystem, which includes treating all developers, large or small, equally. We already review every app before it goes live, and the cost is nominal so we have no plans to charge developers," MySpace said in a statement.

The "Facebook Verified App" seals will begin to appear early in 2009 in applications' About Pages and in the site's application directory, according to Facebook.

Approved applications will also enjoy higher levels of visibility in Facebook notification mechanisms, like the News Feed and other communication features.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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