Full text of the email is at http://lts.cr/PRh
I'm not using stream.publish, and I'm checking for updates as little as possible. Also, it seems it was deleted from my apps...so they didn't just disable it. It's gone for good.
I may open source the code, if anyone wants to run copies. Let me know.
Update 1: I just messaged Zuck, hopefully he can respond with some more details.
Update 2: I tried to appeal the decision using Facebook's little form (http://www.facebook.com/help?faq=17553), but it wouldn't go through for my account. My friend tried it, and it worked. Don't really know what to think about that...
Update 3: Maybe this is a Harvard v Yale thing?
Some of the suggestions in "How to respond when Facebook censors your political speech" might be helpful -- http://www.talesfromthe.net/blog/?p=28
To be fair, I guess it was because I didn't have my real name on it but it was the name my blog readers know me by. Several thousands of friends - gone, without a warning.
And I've got a lot of friends who aren't using their real names either and are getting away with it, no idea how they are tracking you down.
Insisting on real names is a big part of what makes Facebook so uncool and corporate to me. I want the Myspace days back, seriously. They didn't care at all.
Honestly, how gutless can you be? Quite the charades you got going there, congrats! If that's what interests you...
That depends on if you consider the point of facebook to give detailed, accurate biographical data about yourself away to a company with which you have no monetary relationship, so that this company can then sell it, or not.
They ignore bad press and privacy concerns in order to move the project forward in major ways. Like adding News Feeds, or allowing entirely classes of API interaction (Beacon). They don't do it for little features like breakup notifications.
Checking status automatically takes away some incentive from users from logging-on, there by less money for fb. Hence the shut-down.
Somebody else posted a project where they were going to create an app so that people could interact with fb through their email? If that takes off, expect it to be shut-down as well.
To others interested, Facebook has a pretty good tutorial/demo app:
And frankly, I am not surprised if Facebook isn't comfortable having this app around. If someone finds an exploit, and a "who has a secret crush on who" database gets out, that's a pretty major PR-disaster for Facebook. Non tech-savy Average Joe won't care that it wasn't Facebook's fault.
Yet in the digital world, 100% dependency on another entity is becoming more and more common. Sounds like a high wire act without a net. Best to find other distribution outlets before you lose your balance.
It's analogical to buying shares with borrowed money. You've increased the potential upside, but now the downside is that much more catastrophic.
Now, please pause for a moment and consider: it doesn't have to be Microsoft or Apple or Oracle. Some of the crazy valuations are putting much less robust companies within an order of magnitude. If one of them goes, it's going to be big news and stock prices right across hi-tech industry could race to the bottom scarily fast as we've seen before.
If you are, for example, Zynga, then the kind of disaster that could lead to catastrophic failure seems awfully difficult for you to anticipate or control. Likewise all kinds of new companies being built on Twitter and so on, keeping in mind that Twitter (as far as I know) doesn't actually make any money itself yet and could easily be displaced by the next new shiny thing tomorrow.
I'm not saying it's going to happen at all, never mind tomorrow, but there is definitely a house of cards building up here, and of such things, market bubbles are made.
So logically anyone who wants to ship a physical product should start by developing their own oil well and aluminium ore mine.
And indeed, if your business depends on airfreight you will also be strongly coupled to the destiny of that part of the industry. There's no need to develop your own oil well, but to have a vision about alternatives is a good thing in that case. Branson's Virgin sells records. And airtravel. And Mobiles. Would he have survived by betting exclusively on Sony MiniDisc ?
The bigger issue is they are dependent on frameworks that are still evolving at very high rates. Rapid changes brings a lot of chaos into the equation, which is dangerous from an investment perspective, but that same chaos can lead to unexpectedly strong results as well.
If anything, the collapse of Microsoft would produce many smaller companies competing to satisfy the ubiquitous demand for Windows support.
Yes it's true that your products wont stop functioning in the short term, but a dead framework that's no longer supported and updated means you HAVE TO rewrite it using another framework. and we all know how costly rewrites are.
I find the 2 scenarios you listed to have much more in common than not. The main difference is the amount of time you have to react.
The difference is that if Microsoft of Oracle/Sun disappear, the framework does not.
There is another rather unhealthy (IMHO) trend in the market today for DRM to be applied to everything. That can mean that products consumers have paid good money for can effectively just be switched off arbitrarily, and that's why I don't personally buy things that are DRM'd in such a way.
Developing for mobile platforms can be similarly risky. For example, my startup has no current plans to build an iPhone app, even though our users might appreciate it. We simply don't trust that Apple will not just arbitrarily squish us and not even notice/care based on their track record to date, and we would rather invest our money in safe platforms like the web. Apple aren't going to stop shipping a browser that can view modern web sites, it would kill their products.
If you think about it, a typical brick and mortar gets its money from hundreds if not thousands of customers every year (restaurant/cafe, auto mechanic, etc).
It's like renting a particular location: it's technically true that you could lose your lease, but that's only a risk to your business's long-term viability if your lease is artificially cheap (otherwise, you'll just move to another place on similar terms). And if your location is a particularly good deal, you should take it, even though losing it would suck.
Online, the same dynamic applies, but with lower transaction costs.
A customer is not necessarily someone who uses your product or service. That's a user. Think of a venn diagram....
The situation of startups who depend upon an external large business like Facebook, Amazon or Twitter is analogous to a car dealership that only sells one kind of car - say, Saturns. If Saturn stops selling to you or goes out of business, you're going to have to make some major changes.
Breakup Notifier is an interesting idea and an example of the sort of engagement that developers can get on Facebook Platform (according to our stats this app had ~13k monthly Facebook users).
That said, we've built a number of automated systems that track people’s response to News Feed stories generated by apps to ensure they have a positive experience and to determine if a given app is violating our policies. These systems have worked well, cutting spam by 95% last year alone.
In this particular case, Breakup Notifier triggered one of our automated systems due to an excessive number of negative user reports. The system automatically shuts down access to the app while immediately notifying the developer via email; which is exactly what happened for Breakup Notifier. We take this action to preserve the user experience while giving our developer relations team time to work with the developer to correct the issue. We have been in contact with the developer since he followed back up with us. We hope to get the underlying issues resolved and get Breakup Notifier running again.
We want Facebook to be a great place for both people and developers — and we work very hard to ensure that we are balancing all the factors at play. We think our systems do a reasonable job helping us strike this balance, but we are open to feedback and constantly look to tune how we react to these situations.
Comments, flames, etc. welcomed.
How is the developer supposed to contact Facebook via a disabled user account?
I am not going to go into specific details of what our system does, but we require that the developer verify their identity when we take a policy action on an app.
We do this to ensure that the account wasn't compromised (which could have led to the behavior our system detected).
If you have ever forgotten your Facebook password, it is a similar flow.
We communicate with the developer over their alternative email in these cases.
But I will also stick up for the user-centric perspective. I will never forget how Apple treated Google with respect to Google Voice. In that specific case Apple made up some very capricious arguments to avoid allowing an extremely useful app from appearing in the App Store, which would have hurt me directly had I owned an iPhone instead of an Android device.
Would "just jailbreak your phone" be acceptable advice to give to your mother, who is always rolled out as the beneficiary of Apple's tight control over the App Store ecosystem, if she were to want to obtain the recently banned Readability app? If not, then we shouldn't be using it as a way to sweep these discussions under the rug.
HOWEVER, there's still a big gotcha: that permission does NOT exempt you from the "trafficking" provisions of the DMCA. So you're not actually allowed to "manufacture" or "import" a circumvention device.
In other words, it's a catch-22, where you're allowed to do it but denied the means, because you're not allowed to make or acquire the tools to do so.
As to the question about Apple, I don't like this move: it's sort of like they don't want people to let people know all the creepy things people can learn by knowing your entire social graph. But they have no trouble using that data themselves. I solve this issue the same way I do with Apple: I have no Facebook account.
EDIT: This article is about something else, but it has a pretty good explanation of what the DMCA means by "trafficking" and why it's so crazy:
It's possible that a court would exempt you from trafficking if your tool only worked for an exempted work, but nobody has tested this in court, so you do that at your own risk.
I think that the legality of the task is important, but it's also pretty critical how supported that task is. While it's legal to jailbreak, it's also (probably? unknown) legal for Apple to accidentally brick your phone during updates.
That we can jailbreak is no consolation for, say, Grooveshark. They put in a lot of work into their iOS app and it's still only available to a relative handful of users on Cydia. It's great we have Cydia but it sucks that you have to join some elite nerd club to use it. Make no mistake, only people who are at least slightly geeky jailbreak devices. Most people cringe at the word "jailbreak" and are scared of bricking their phones. It's a very hard thing to explain to non-technical folk.
Grooveshark focuses instead on other mobile platforms. That's not good for the iOS ecosystem, it's not good for iOS users, and it's not good for Grooveshark. (I can't say that it's not good for Apple because as a result of not having Grooveshark on the store they might be retaining music sales on iTunes.)
What would be a more positive term? "Repo" would provide a better analogy, but still has some negative connotations; "liberate" sounds far too grandiose.
That said, you have complete access to your own device, but you don't own the OS running on it. If you want to figure out a way to run Android or something else on it, you're absolutely within your rights to do so, but Apple isn't under any obligation, legal or otherwise, to make it easy for you.
As for Grooveshark, it's a shame for them that they're not on the App Store, but it looks like they were for a bit and then got DMCA'd for some reason. There's nothing particular about the app itself that is objectionable for the store, considering Pandora is up there just fine and it seems like they're the same kind of thing. Jailbreak+Cydia is an alternative, but again, it's not Apple's job to make it a viable one.
I think people are letting their feelings about the App Store color everything about Apple. Ironically, the people with the strongest feelings are the people who least have to put up with it, since they understand how to get around it, whether that be jailbreaking and using Cydia for apps, using web applications, or going with Android.
Perhaps knowing how things could be makes one more upset at how they are, in any situation (not just phones).
But I think the reason the rhetoric is different is because we've all been buying downloadable apps without an app store for years. It's familiar. So it feels like Apple is adding unnecessary barriers for no other reason.
On the other hand, there is less history of service providers allowing you to use any app to access data they're holding on your behalf.
Apple's policies involve dictating the terms of outside services being used in their garden.
Facebook's policies involved dictating the terms of their own services being used in their garden.
If you have a product or service and want an additional presence on iOS it is to provide a better service to your customers and thereby increasing your value to them.
When Apple makes that hard/impossible they are decreasing your value to customers which is a problem to a lot of businesses.
The same is obviously not the case for Facebook except for a limited number of cases.
I hate to be cynical, but of course it's always been that way. The only way to get punished in a walled garden scenario is to embarrass the garden owner or bring too much attention to yourself.
New way? Being too successful is probably one of the most common causes for being kicked out of walled gardens, usually under the pretext of "policy violation".
Nothing new about it.
As Zuckerberg says, the system looks for 'outlying' behavior. "If you behave like an average user you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off." http://www.talesfromthe.net/jon/?p=336
Sure they can try and justify blocking the application by saying it made 'excessive API calls', but how do they justify disabling his personal account?
Until he contacted them I wonder if any human was even aware that his app had been blocked. The interesting question here is how Facebook will respond in this instance.
This just gives me the impression that Facebook doesn't approve of successful (indie) applications built on their API.
Since the app pulls in all your Facebook friends, and people generally have a few hundred friends, I suspect the number of users of Breakup Notifier is in the tens of thousands.
 - Dan told me.
EDIT: (the parent comment once said 10,000, now changed.)
However CPM banners like Doubleclick combined with affiliate links to dating sites could do very well indeed.
I wonder if he's feeling honoured yet? :-)
This app wasn't taken down because of "an inordinate number of stream.publish calls."
The question is how this app falls within acceptable behavior. Is it closer in nature to the acceptable practices (such as the FB Newsfeed where you see friends' recently changed statuses)? Or is it closer to behavior that FB wants to dissuade (such as an app showing how many times a given friend has viewed your profile)?
Facebook lets people post where they are when. An app that determines when someone isn't home or when someone is alone in a dangerous area would still be undesirable.
Note also - Friend doesn't let someone explicit reject a friend request and it doesn't let people "unlike". This may seem dictatorial but in many ways it's "good moderation/curation of the space". It's just as logical for Facebook to remove apps that want to add "the forgotten" "reject button"/"unlike button".
I wouldn't be surprised if facebook came up with a similar 'Breakup Notifier' feature soon..
Even in this case, they should have given some explanation.