Facebook Applications: Another step towards MySpace?

Posted: June 11, 2007 in Just Out!
Tags: ,

As most of us know, Facebook (a popular social networking website) has recently launched an open API platform, which allows anyone to write custom applications for Facebook. These applications can do pretty much anything, ranging from linking a user’s profile with this user’s account on another website (e.g. del.icio.us), and displaying their recent bookmarks on their Facebook profile, to letting a user rate other users based on whether they are “hot or not”, to many other kinds of applications.

This new initiative has caused some controversy. One opinion has been that this is a revolutionary step. Of course it is, since now the Facebook profile can be more personalized by adding certain applications that each user finds interesting. It can also help in making the Facebook profile a one-stop page that can display all the information you are interested in from your accounts on other websites (e.g. your bookmarks from del.icio.us, your latest blog entries, your favorite RSS feeds, etc.), something like the iGoogle homepage.

On the other hand, there is a downside. By adding any application to your Facebook profile, you are giving this application – and its developer(s) – access to some data from your profile, data that probably only your friends can see. Most of Facebook users do not know exactly how much of their information is accessible by these new applications, and therefore privacy has become a major concern.

A more important point – at least in my own opinion – is that the new applications have moved Facebook one more step closer to its major rival, MySpace. To many users, Facebook was far more favorable than MySpace because (1) it started with a semi-closed community, limited to schools, then businesses, thus not anyone could have a Facebook account, and (2) because of its elegant, simple, uncluttered interface. To these users’ dismay, Facebook decided to open its membership to anyone who has an email address. And now, with the new Facebook applications, the interface is getting more and more cluttered with useless applications that – more often than not – have programming errors and do not do what they say they do.

Perhaps it’s time for Facebook to take a minute, and give some more thought of where it is going next.

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    No, a step away from myspace. Better platform=better apps, like this one: http://apps.facebook.com/thenewsroom

  2. Amr says:

    First of all, I do not deny that are are *some* good applications, but the majority are just *fun stuff* that are really useless. And as I mentioned in the post, many of them are buggy and don’t even do what they say.
    I beg to differ with you that a better platform does not equal better apps. That can be only true if the apps are all developed by professional developers who check, re-check, and double-check their apps.

    I am not against the platform, but perhaps it would be to consider limiting access to it, not opening it to everyone who can (or can’t) write a decent application.

    Even then, this still does not solve the clutter issue.

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