MySpace used to be notorious for simply banning third party widgets that didn’t play nice (“not playing nice” generally meant any kind of advertisements in the widgets, but it was very arbitrary). Those days are long gone. Maybe now, though, Facebook is having a go at it.
Until now Facebook combated black hat applications by just tightening up the rules to shut down loopholes. The problem with that approach is that it tends to reward bad behavior, since the only downside is that it’ll be stopped at some point and your competitors won’t have the same ability to spam that you did. A race to the bottom ensued. And Slide and RockYou tended to be among the worst offenders.
Tonight though that may have changed. A hugely popular Slide application called Top Friends (review here) has simply vanished from Facebook’s site. Users who had installed it don’t see it, searches for it in the directory turn up empty, and the URL for the application now redirects to the Facebook home page. It’s like it never existed.
So what happened? We won’t know until morning. But this isn’t just a broken application, since the app page is redirecting to Facebook.com.
Update: It looks like CNET has the answer – Top Friends has a security hole that allowed people to view partial profiles of people who were not their friends, and Facebook suspended them. I’d say it’s safe to say Slide is hard at work on a fix.
Until Facebook suspended the Top Friends app, created by Slide, anyone could browse partial profiles of anyone else on Facebook who had added Top Friends to their page. CNET News.com confirmed that the security hole exposed the birthdays, gender, and relationship status of strangers, including Facebook executives, the wife of Google co-founder Larry Page, and one profile that seemed to belong to Paris Hilton. Basically, the app was not obeying the privacy settings specified by the user, enabling anyone with the know-how to bypass the security once they obtained someone’s Facebook ID number.