Facebook stirred quite a lot of criticism yesterday when it blocked two new apps in a matter of hours. Twitter's Vine and Yandex's Wonder were blocked from accessing friend data.
While Facebook can block whoever it wants and its platform terms of service provided some explanation, it was still quite a strong move, even for Facebook.
Finally, Facebook has responded to the criticism to clarify its position. The most surprising thing about the response is that there is one at all, Facebook usually keeps quiet and waits for criticism to die down. It worked so far.
On its developers page, Facebook explained that most app developers have nothing to fear, Facebook isn't changing anything.
"For a much smaller number of apps that are using Facebook to either replicate our functionality or bootstrap their growth in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook, such as not providing users an easy way to share back to Facebook, we’ve had policies against this that we are further clarifying today," Facebook's Justin Osofsky explained
Facebook also updated the section of its platform terms of service which dealt with situations like this.
"Facebook Platform enables developers to build personalized, social experiences via the Graph API and related APIs. If you use any Facebook APIs to build personalized or social experiences, you must also enable people to easily share their experiences back with people on Facebook," the new policy
"You may not use Facebook Platform to promote, or to export user data to, a product or service that replicates a core Facebook product or service without our permission," it adds.
Facebook is saying that this is all about playing fair, about giving back. Which is well and nice and it may have been right to a degree.
But Twitter's Vine made it just as easy to share to Facebook as on Twitter. And it certainly doesn't need Facebook data to bootstrap growth, it's got Twitter behind it.
Likewise, Wonder may have replicated some functionality, in the Graph Search, but the Facebook feature has been around for only a few weeks, Wonder must have been in the works before that. At the same time, there are plenty of apps that use Facebook and that replicate some features, Facebook does a lot of things.