Facebook is going through a redesign meant to reduce the clutter on its once-sparse pages; it’s supposed to let users see what’s most important to them, and keep them from burning out and heading to rival social networks.
But what’s good for users may not be good for one of Facebooks’ other huge constituencies — third-party developers, who have been beavering away at apps for the site since it opened up a year ago. But now Mark Zuckerberg and co are implementing a series of measures making it harder for app-makers to see their work “go viral”. The newest one to bubble up from the redesign specs: A change in the way users display the apps themselves.
This sounds small, but could be big: Right now, when users add applications, they are asked whether they want to add the app in a box their friends see when they view their profile. As of today, this option is automatically checked. But when the redesign goes live, the option won’t even be there. Users will have to proactively decided to display the app.
This doesn’t mean the app disappers from the site: You can still invite your friends to use the app, and they’ll still see when you’re using it, via their news feed. But random surfers checking out their friends’ pages (which we do a lot) won’t see nearly as many apps they might be interested in trying out themselves (which has happened to us a lot)
We’re still not sure this is a terrible thing for the app economy: We think the most entertaining, compelling or even useful apps will survive just fine on their own. But for the many, many marginal App-makers out there, this could be a warning sign: Time to get a real job.
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