Facebook Developer Shares Story Following App Ban

    June 29, 2011
    Chris Crum

Facebook has made an adjustment to its ban bot, which bans applications it deems too spammy. A lot of apps have been shut down in the process, including some legitimate ones. Naturally, developers are upset.

For more background read this.

We reached out to the developers of Profile Maker, one popular app that was caught by the ban bot.

“Our application was quite popular and reached 6.5 million users,” one of the developers tells WebProNews. “It had about one million monthly active users and it gained more than 1,100,00 likes.  It had a rating of 4.3 out of 5 based on hundreds of reviews and was even covered by top tech bloggers such as: MSNBC, TheNextWeb, Gizmodo, and AllFacebook.”

Not bad reactions either.

Here’s how “liked” the app was:

Profile Maker Likes

“Four days ago the application was suddenly disabled with no prior warning and without even a notification stating that it happened,” he continues. “The only response we’ve received from Facebook so far was an automated one that followed an appeal form that we filled. Needless to say, we are extremely frustrated.”

“We spent lots of time making sure our application complied to Facebook Platform policies and guidelines. We also invested lots of time into the application itself and have multiple other applications under development,” he adds.

As noted in our previous article on the topic, lots of these app developers have spent a great deal of time and money, and have entire businesses with employees built around these apps. Some are finding their funding put in jeopardy because of the ordeal.

All the while, it has been Facebook’s lack of communication and shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality that has been criticized the most. Developers wouldn’t have minded having some kind of warning or explanation of what they were doing wrong (if anything) before just having the plug pulled entirely.

“This incident highlights the risk of working inside the Facebook ecosystem and explains why lots of serious developers are staying out of it,” the developer tells us. “We are aware of the amount of spammy applications inside Facebook and the need to control them. The problem here is that lots of legitimate good applications get banned as a collateral damage. This in turn antagonizes these “good guys” and often pushes them off the platform while the spammers are there to stay so the platform is becoming ever more spammy.”

“The most frustrating part is that the banning process is automated and that there’s no one to talk to,” he adds. “There are real people standing beyond these applications and it really effects their lives.”

Here are some stats on Profile Maker:

Daily Active Users

We wondered if an excessive amount of app blocks may have played a role in the banning. The developer tells us, “Blocks were not relevant for our application as it did not send any notifications or invitations. The number was very low and was not even worth considering. The total number of ‘Unsubscribes’ which is users who have hidden our App or Page in their News Feed was 0.5% (half of one precent of our total users). So by no means these accusations made by Facebook about negative user feedback make sense.”

The company has said it will be rolling out new insights related to blocks in the next couple weeks.

We’ve reached to Facebook for further comment, and we’ll update if we get any.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson finally got back to us, but would not address any specific questions, simply giving us the following statement: We don’t comment on specific cases but we have an appeals process if developers feel they’ve been disabled in error. Additionally, we’re working on updated tools and analytics to help developers better monitor user feedback and provide more transparency into our systems. As part of this, the team is working to make changes to the process, improve the developer experience related to spam enforcement, and provide more data on negative user feedback. However, for apps that do violate our policies (https://developers.facebook.com/policy/), we will continue to take action in order to maintain a trustworthy experience for users.”


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.