On Friday, the same day that “Operation Developer Love” was announced, Facebook shut down all LOLapps applications. While the two events were not related, the timing was nothing short of ironic.
Facebook has been criticized consistently for years by developers of inconsistently enforcing policies. As one developer on Hacker News summarized:
The standard of practice is definitely to get away with anything until you get caught but everyone was looking at what everyone else was doing as an example of what could be done. I worked (past tense) for a much smaller FB game company. The two compliance warnings we got were both on Friday afternoons, which is kinda interesting. It always seemed like they were that kind of 24/7 startup, and you had to be too just to keep up.
For any developer that has been building on the Facebook application since the early days, that LOLapps has been banned probably doesn’t exactly come as shocking news. The odds are that LOLapps will see their apps return after some time in the “penalty box”, however for outsiders it’s an effective illustration of what life is like building on the Facebook Platform. Most major app developers have had some form of back and forth with Facebook at some point in the past over policy issues.
Others have suggested that Facebook has arbitrarily shut down applications without warning and without any formal communication to the developers. However there are few concrete examples of such activities, most likely because many of the developers don’t want to speak out about the issue since they have other applications currently dependent on the Facebook Platform.
Despite the ups and downs with developers, Facebook recognizes how important the relationship with developers is to the company’s success. While the Facebook Platform wasn’t solely responsible for Facebook’s growth over the past few years, there’s no doubt that the applications have helped. Every so often Facebook faces criticism from the developer community over inconsistent policy enforcement, platform modifications, or other issues, and most often they eventually make the necessary changes.
On Friday, Facebook announced some of their intended changes, as part of a program titled “Operation Developer Love”. As part of the program, Facebook is promising a number of things, including: being more responsive to Platform bugs and more consistent developer communication, beginning with a weekly blog post on the Facebook developer blog. The timing of this announcement clearly couldn’t have been more ironic as the company had also shut down one of the largest developers on the Platform.
Then again, nobody is exactly shocked. While we aren’t quite sure what violation LOLapps made, we’d have to assume that they have some idea about it. We’ll have to wait and see if we find out what happened. In the meantime however, Facebook is ramping up to help out developers more as part of the, sure to be a massive improvement, operation “Developer Love”.