Under fire for cutting off popular new apps, Facebook has announced new rules for developers using its social network.It is now requiring developers to show “reciprocity,” which means their apps must let users easily post content to Facebook, in order to use Facebook’s friend-finding features.
The change comes as Facebook abruptly cut off access to Twitter’s new Vine video-sharing app and Wonder, a social search app from Yandex, a Russia-based search engine.
For years, Facebook has encouraged app developers on the Web and on mobile devices to use Facebook as a default login and a way of finding friends who are also using the service, a key strategy for making it ubiquitous.
But it has repeatedly clashed with players like Google and Twitter, viewing their attempts to connect with Facebook as an attempt to build up competing social networks at Facebook’s expense.
Here’s the old rule Facebook had for developers:
Competing social networks: (a) You may not use Facebook Platform to export user data into a competing social network without our permission; (b) Apps on Facebook may not integrate, link to, promote, distribute, or redirect to any app on any other competing social network.
And the new rule:
Reciprocity and Replicating core functionality: (a) Reciprocity: Facebook Platform enables developers to build personalised, social experiences via the Graph API and related APIs. If you use any Facebook APIs to build personalised or social experiences, you must also enable people to easily share their experiences back with people on Facebook. (b) Replicating core functionality: 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.
The reciprocity requirement around sharing content and the prohibition on replicating Facebook services are new, but it closely matches a controversial changes Twitter made last year to crack down on apps that mostly acted as clients for reading and posting tweets.
Still, what constitutes “replication,” and how easy must sharing be? Facebook, it seems, will decide that.
Vine, Twitter’s new video app, allows content to be shared easily, in the form of a link and a preview image. But unlike Facebook-owned Instagram, which injects photos directly into Facebook users’ profiles, Vine does not actually post the videos on Facebook.
That mirrors the restricted way with which Instagram interacts with Twitter: Instagram no longer displays photos on Twitter’s website or mobile apps, forcing users to click through to the Instagram website to view and interact with them.
Enforcement seems arbitrary. Facebook allows Twitter users to crosspost updates from Twitter to Facebook, but LinkedIn users can no longer crosspost Twitter updates to the professional network. Facebook allows Google’s YouTube and Yahoo’s Flickr to share photos and videos while using friend-finding features. Twitter likewise allows Flickr users to find Twitter friends, but Instagram users can’t.
Consumers pay the price, ultimately, since they must laboriously rebuild their lists of friends on any new service that’s innovative enough to threaten dominant players like Twitter or Facebook, or just offered by a company that’s not on sufficiently friendly terms with them.
A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to a request to discuss the new policies in greater detail.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.