Pay to Play

Facebook released a bit more detail about its Application Verification Program today. While it did not offer specifics, there is one big piece of news that wasn’t divulged at F8: there will be an application fee and it will be non-refundable.

The application fee may as well be an application fee because it won’t be long before the “Verified by Facebook” logo will be the deciding factor in a user’s mind about whether to authorize an application. Facebook applications have a certain taint at this stage because of the hokeyness of a large number of them. Those lacking the badge will bear a stigma, especially if Facebook includes the badge on the authorization popup.

At some point, you will pay to be verified because otherwise your app won’t be used. I hesitate to call this a shakedown because we don’t know the price of the application fee. They could not have instituted the fee at the inception of the developer platform because it would have limited the number of applications. Adding it at the tail end of a rich ecosystem really strikes me as mining. So again I have to wonder why Benjamin Ling didn’t mention it at the keynote.

I suspect that it was because the fee would have undercut the user-centric theme at this year’s F8. The new profile design, the statement of core values, and the changes to the application developer program all were justified as being necessary to re-establish trust and value for the end user. But this fee plus some of the punitive measures points towards a more “business of Facebook” rationale. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’d be nice if it was stated frankly.

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