Why Is Facebook Disabling Apps Without Warning?

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If you’re a regular use of Facebook. you may have noticed the disappearance of a number of applications across the site in the last week or so—including Social Interview, Photo Effect and God Reads—and be wondering what’s going on. It’s been officially explained as part of a widespread operation responding to complaints of an increase in spam:

“Recently, we started getting a lot of user feedback, spiking significantly over the past week, on the amount of application spam people are seeing in their feeds and on their walls. As a result, we turned on a new enforcement system yesterday that took user feedback much more heavily into account. This resulted in a number of applications with high negative user feedback being disabled or having certain features disabled. We’ve posted a link for developers where they can appeal if they feel they’ve been disabled in error.”

Others believe that it’s actually the first step Facebook is taking in launching the much-rumored Project Spartan, which will allow the site to more easily control its content and apps and allow a potential power grab from Apple.

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Some—but nowhere near all—of the affected apps have been reinstated; Good Reads, for one, although Otis Chandler, CEO of Good Reads, still seems somewhat in the dark about what actually happened:

“We were shut down on Thursday around 6pm. We appealed, and were rejected Friday morning, and told to create a new app, sacrificing nearly a million installs we’d built up over four years.

We didn’t know the reason we were shut down, but audited our app and cleaned up a few things just to be sure, and appealed again. We were happily restored Friday late afternoon. A great reminder of the power Facebook has over all of us developers.”

But has Facebook learned the Peter Parker Principle, or will that great power come without any responsibility to all the app-makers it could be about to put out of business?

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