Does the Facebook Application Dashboard Hurt Privacy?

    February 4, 2010
    Chris Crum

Update 2: Facebook has responded to the privacy concerns with the dashboards: "To ensure that the dashboards meet user and developer expectations for a trustworthy experience, we’re giving developers the ability to hide their applications in the Friends’ Recent Activity, Friends’ Applications, and Friends’ Games sections of the dashboards. We’re also working on giving users the ability to control how their application activity is featured in the dashboards, and it will go live shortly after the dashboards launch to users. "

Update: According to Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook, there is a "slight privacy oversight" (which he also says is "not a minor bug") that lets users view the latest apps that their friends have been using. He notes that Facebook will probably resolve the issue before full launch.

Original Article: Facebook will be launching the Games Dashboard and the Applications Dashboard in the coming weeks. The company says these will make it easier for users to interact with their apps, and will provide new communication channels from the home page.

"Once launched to users, the dashboards will serve as a personalized destination on Facebook for users to interact with their favorite applications, discover news ones and receive application updates related to recent activity," a spokesperson for Facebook tells WebProNews. "For developers, the Applications and Games dashboards will provide new opportunities for communication with users, as well as discoverability of their applications."

On the Facebook Developer Blog, Jordan M. Alperin outlines the following features:

  • Recently used applications and games: The top section of the dashboards will prominently display applications that a user has recently interacted with, making it easy to reengage with the applications they use most often. This section will also include a link to a page where users can see all of the applications they have interacted with, whether or not they have been bookmarked.
  • News items: Applications will have the ability to display news stories, giving you the ability to communicate with your users and alert them to news related to your application, such as, "It’s your turn in a game against Jared" or "The leaderboard was reset 6 hours ago, come play!" You’ll have the option to set global news items, which will be visible to all users, or personal news items, which target a specific user. The news component will appear as a text field next to each application in the dashboard.
  • Mentioning Users: Using simple syntax, you can render users’ names and links to their profiles in news and activities.
  • Your Friends’ Recent Activity: The dashboards will display some of the applications that a user’s friends are using along with information about relevant activities within the application. You’ll set these activity stories via the Dashboard API.
  • Your Friends Play: Another way we’ll help users discover new applications is by showing them a number of their friends who frequently use applications, and the applications those friends use.
  • Directory: The Directory section of the dashboard will show the applications that currently appear in the "Applications You May Like" section of the Application Directory. We will also link to the Application Directory in this section.
  • Suggestions: On the right hand side we’ll have a Suggestions area where Facebook will highlight applications we think users might like, based on the applications they and their friends are using.
  • Counters and home page placement: "Games" and "Applications" links will appear on users’ home pages and will link to the dashboards, once the new home page launches to users in the coming weeks. Bookmarked applications will also have prominence on the home page, and can be accompanied by Counters that you can set to let users know there are actions for them to take within your applications.

Here is what the Games Dashboard looks like:

Facebook Games Dashboard

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that users can receive notifications from apps in their email. Also, they will phase out updates from apps in the notifications channel on Facebook.

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