What’s it Mean When A Facebook App is Sold?

    September 20, 2007

I should begin by clearly stating I’m no legal expert, application developer or feeling overly paranoid (oh shut up!). However, my travels today led me to discover something I wasn’t aware of before.

Facebook applications can be sold by their creators.

This means, for example,  an application for Facebook, with thousands upon thousands of Facebook members happily using it and passing it on to their friends, can change ownership at any time. Maintenance can change. It can be moved to a new server. All the data changes hands. That sort of thing.

I found one of the popular applications for sale. Bids have gone past $3000 for it. Not bad for a developer who likely coded it in a day.

Facebook is merrily chugging along with enhancements to applications and specifically, the delivery of them to the Facebook community.

As a member myself, one of the reasons I like Facebook is that some of the applications you can add to your Facebook page make it easier to interact with and get to know your friends. When you work virtually, as I do, it can become a habit to check in several times a day to check on the “Status” of your friends. Many of them use it to communicate what they’re feeling, how the day is going, news of the day, etc. It’s an insight into people you work with or associate with but rarely ever see in person, but care about anyway.

According to an item in Facebook’s developer news page, there will be new ways to promote applications.

“Because News Feed is an important part of distribution for everyone, we hope to enable feed stories to be shown to users who haven’t added the application (italics mine). We’ll also begin to optimize these stories into higher rotation amongst the other application add stories. But this addition is likely to be further down the line than the others.”

It’s not specifically worded to say something like “we hope to enable feed stories to be shown to your friends who haven’t added the application.” Rather, it sounds like feed stories, which is another type of status update, will be fed to people outside your group of friends.

I doubt this is what they mean.

But, in the interest of already existing privacy issues and concerns by some Facebook users, it struck me as interesting to learn that all your votes, messages, booze mail and video sharing data are not only up for grabs but can be sold to the highest bidder.

Related, on different blogs:

Compare People Facebook App Pulls a Bait and Switch? – Rae Hoffman

Using Facebook: Uploading Your Original Content Automatically Grants Them License to Use It – Li Evans