Facebook Hopes To Make Apps Better By Making Open Graph StricterBy: Zach Walton - October 10, 2012
One of Facebook’s main strategies moving forward is to increase the number of apps with Facebook integration. This will increase the number of users visiting Facebook, and in turn increase their own advertising potential. That’s why Facebook has been pushing Open Graph, App Center and other developer tools to make sure those apps are the best they can be. The social network has determined that it’s still not good enough, and is now rolling out some more changes that developers will need to be aware of.
First things first, Facebook is changing up how open graph stories display on a user’s feed. Their research indicates that stories with an image and location are among the most engaging. The apps that provide both will be given priority over other apps. Developers may not like that change, Facebook assures stories with both an image and location generate 70 percent more clicks with some stories even gaining 50 times more likes.
Non-open graph stories, such as those published with stream.publish, will be presented in the old way. Facebook has a comparison shot of the same story in both ways to show the difference.
The new format does look better once you get past the creep factor of having Facebook display a user’s precise location via Bing Maps. Of course, users have the final say on how much information apps can display with their apps, and that will presumably stay the same. For developers, you can start taking advantage of these new display options right now. Check out the documentation for more details.
The other major change is concerned with the use of custom actions. In the past, these allowed apps to automatically publish stories to a user’s feed. Apps must now use Facebook approved built-in actions with their apps. This is to cut down on the instances where custom actions would “surprise and confuse people.” These built-in actions will still publish stories to a user’s feed automatically, but they will be done in a way that helps “set user expectations.”
What about those developers who can’t find a built-in action that’s right for them? Facebook says that you should just “build a different experience that helps people share meaningful stories with friends.” In essence, you should innovate if Facebook’s own system fails you.
Facebook is also deprecating two features that have resulted in high negative user feedback. The first is authenticated referrals which only serve to annoy users by asking for permissions with little context. Developers must move to using the standard Auth Dialog system.
Secondly, Facebook is removing the Post to Friend’s Wall option in the API. Too many users were responding to friend’s posting apps on their wall by either clicking “hide” or “mark as spam.” Developers who still want to allow users to spam friends can invoke the feed dialog.
Developers have 90 days to fix the aforementioned issues in their apps. After that, the app will be removed from Facebook until the proper fixes are applied to the app. At that point, developers can resubmit their app for approval.
To help developers avoid such a fate, Facebook has updated their Open Graph guidelines page with all new info on quality expectations and tips on how to provide quality experiences to users.