Facebook clarifies platform policy: If you aren’t directing value back, no access for you

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Shortly after Twitter launched its Vine video product on Thursday, users noticed that the “find friends” feature connected to Facebook wasn’t working, and it became obvious the two companies were at odds over Twitter’s new “Instagram for video attempt.” On Friday, Facebook came out and provided further clarification on its policy toward third-party apps, stating that it wants to grow a third-party developer ecosystem, assuming those apps share data back to Facebook and don’t compete with its core product.

Facebook wrote in a blog post Friday saying that it’s clarified its policy about third-party access:

For the vast majority of developers building social apps and games, keep doing what you’re doing. Our goal is to provide a platform that gives people an easy way to login to your apps, create personalized and social experiences, and easily share what they’re doing in your apps with people on Facebook. This is how our platform has been used by the most popular categories of apps, such as games, music, fitness, news and general lifestyle apps.

For a much smaller number of apps that are using Facebook to either replicate our functionality or bootstrap their growth in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook, such as not providing users an easy way to share back to Facebook, we’ve had policies against this that we are further clarifying today (see I.10).

Facebook’s social graph is its most valuable asset, so it’s understandable that it wants to keep potential competitors from using the data for growth. But that involves walks a tricky line in making sure it doesn’t alienate small developers who could otherwise get a jump-start through Facebook’s login system.

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