Upcoming Facebook Platform Changes

Tonight, Facebook announced some upcoming changes to their platform. I wanted to comment about how they will affect Rock Your Firefox.

  • Profile box visibility changes – This affected our default text shown before a user adds any favorites, but has already been fixed. Developers were previously told they had 10 days to adjust this, however that deadline has now been extended.
  • Application Directory metrics shift to user engagement – I imagine this could only be better for us, as our statistics show that most of our users check back with the application every day. [Aside: We have fought with a similar problem on AMO of gaging popularity of add-ons based on raw download counts: People try to game the system to get into the top 5, which then gets them in for a long time as people will download anything in the top 5 without much consideration and then uninstall it. We will have new statistics to gage this by soon, including active user counts and “favorite” counts from both Facebook and AMO, which provide a much better idea of which add-ons people actually use and like.]
  • Requests/Invitations deprecation – Rock Your Firefox does not allow users to send invitations to other users. A large part of that is because I expected this to happen. Application invitations are too spammy, and I didn’t think they would last long, especially with some applications abusing them by sending when the user didn’t even select friends to invite. Facebook stated that a standard tool for this will be offered, which is exciting, as we get the functionality but not the wasted time on development of the soon-to-be-deprecated system.
  • No more e-mail notifications – Does not affect Rock Your Firefox.
  • Newsfeed stories for everyone – As an application developer, this is very exciting. Currently, newsfeed stories generated by applications are only seen by friends that also have the application added. The only newsfeed story that has a chance of attracting new users is the generic “Foxkeh has added the Rock Your Firefox application.” If all stories have a chance of being seen, we can generate a lot more interest from users that don’t know about add-ons or don’t even know about Firefox. As a Facebook user, I really hope they have good controls so that if I don’t want to constantly see someone superfeeding their pet gift that grows into a map of places you’ve been, I don’t have to.
  • Join Facebook with an application already added – Earlier this month, Facebook posted that they are working on a feature to allow users to sign up and immediately start using an application. As we have been promoting the rockyourfirefox.com URL and I suspect that several community members joined Facebook just to see the application, this will be helpful.

Overall, these changes are great for us, but I’m sure they are quite unfortunate for other applications that use functionality that will now be removed. Rock Your Firefox 0.4 is scheduled to release this Friday with two awesome new features, which I’ll blog about once they’re live.