As Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) tries to curb spam, developers say that the social networking site is blocking applications that compete directly with its own apps. The Wall Street Journal sites an example of a Paris-based developer Antoine Morcos. Last month, Antoine Morcos received an email from Facebook notifying him that the Menlo Park-based company is cutting ties with his Vintage Camera photo-sharing app.
Mr. Morcos had more than a half a million registered users on the social networking site who shares over 6,000 photos through Vintage Camera on Facebook every day. Now his access is blocked. He tried to discuss the issue with Facebook as his app had less than three complaints on every 1,000 photos shared; but Facebook Inc. did not give a damn. Vintage Camera competes with the Instagram app of Facebook.
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The company has a complex relationship with app developers as Facebook tries to find a balance between its own and the app developers’ set of interests. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said it will inhibit spam and block apps that do not add sufficient value to the site. However, developers argue that the company is trying to eliminate the apps that compete with Facebook-owned products, or it is an attempt to force developers to pay for ads on the social networking site.
MessageMe, another app launched a couple of weeks ago said Facebook has blocked it from accessing the users’ friend lists. MessageMe Inc. co-founder Arjun Sethi told the Wall Street Journal that a section of Facebook policy mentioned that any apps that are similar to a core Facebook product or service will be blocked.
Other popular apps blocked by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) are Voxer, Wonder social discovery and Twitter Inc.’s Vine video app. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s director of developer products Doug Purdy declined to discuss the issue. However, Mr. Purdy did mention that most of the 10 million apps linked to Facebook seem to be satisfied.
App developers are important for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) because their activities and content contribute to a large share of Facebook user activities. They attract new users and keep the existing users engaged. A fine example is Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) that attracted tens of millions of new users to Facebook and kept them hooked.
Now Facebook has grown to over a billion user. The company is now struggling to find a balance between advertisers, developers and its own products.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has also prohibited developers to use resources they need to capture new users. For example, the company recently blocked developers from customizing messages for people and posting items on a user’s wall. Facebook has also limited the ways they can send alerts to members. So, developers have lost their ability to catch users’ attention.
These attempts could force developers to alienate the social networking giant, causing them to develop apps that rely less on the site. That may result into less content and activities on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), affecting its ability to serve ads.