Developers can start playing with the new Messages right away, but their incoming emails will be marked as Spam. Also, users will not be able to authenticate their installation through @facebook.com. Why?
It might might take a while for the new Messages (or Social Inbox) to roll out to all 500 million users around the globe, but Facebook is eager to let other developers create third-party apps that capitalize on the new “Social Inbox.”
As you know, the new Inbox creatively integrates and simplifies conversations with friends across messages, texts, IMs, and emails into a single thread or “conversation.” Dan Hsiao, product manager for Messages, has just announced the release of a beta version of the read-only API for Facebook’s new messaging system. Registered developers should be able to start playing with these APIs immediately. Hsiao says the new Messages “opens up opportunities for developers to create a range of new experiences, such as an application where people can read messages directly from their desktop.”
Basically, the new APIs allow apps to access Messages on a user’s behalf after being granted access by the user (just like before). This will allow the app to read from the user’s Inbox. However, don’t expect being able to reach users directly to their Inbox:
“To comply with existing policies and laws that prohibit unsolicited email, and ensure that users are in control of their inbox,” Hsiao continues, “we aren’t currently permitting developers to send messages to @facebook.com email addresses, and have updated our policies to reflect this.”
In other words, developers won’t be able to create apps that spam you or contact you directly. Let’s remember that one of the cornerstones of Social Inbox (and one of the ways this experiment is banking on to succeed) is to improve the quality of messages that reach you, and to effectively rid you of unwanted messages.
On the issue, a Facebook spokesperson told us: “Developers will maintain the same access to communication channels that they have today through GDP and the API. The new messages product is focused on person-to-person communication and email from applications will be classified as SPAM aggressively and we reserve the right to take action against an application caught sending email to users through this channel.”
What about using your spanking new @facebook.com email account to authenticate an application? The answer to this is also No. Says Facebook: “Because @facebook.com is primarily for use between friends, people cannot currently use this email address when authenticating applications. The option is not currently available in the drop-down menu, but it’s something we’re thinking about for future iterations.”
It seems clear that Facebook is aggressively trying to incorporate this new technology and help developers get excited about its capabilities too, but not at the expense of compromising the social spirit of the new Inbox (and email). And by not letting people use their @facebook.com account to authenticate apps, they save themselves the trouble of having to decide how to deal with developers potentially trying to reach users directly.