Facebook Launches Preferred App Program, Translation Services

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Facebook just issued the press release for today’s F8 conference. The release is below, with the most important points bolded.:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Facebook f8 Conference, July 23, 2008 – Facebook today introduced the latest advancements to Facebook Platform during its annual f8 developer conference, calling on its more than 400,000 developers to connect their Websites with Facebook through Facebook Connect, extend their applications to dozens of languages worldwide, and make use of new developer resources to help them succeed.

“We opened Facebook Platform with a belief that community innovation can give people the tools, and the power, to share and communicate in ways that Facebook can’t build on its own. We’re humbled by what our developer community has accomplished,” said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. “We’re confident that the changes we’re presenting today help developers build more meaningful social applications that enable users to share more information.”

Facebook earlier this week released its new site design for users to preview and test, which is being gradually rolled out to Facebook’s more than 90 million active users over the coming weeks. The changes announced today, along with those launched earlier this week, leverage Facebook’s powerful feed system to give developers a new way to gain visibility and help users share and discover more information.

Leveraging the Power of Feeds

“Across the Web, content creation has become easier and more immediate, resulting in a continuous stream of information through what we call ‘feeds’,” said Zuckerberg. “The power of feeds on Facebook is their ability to move you into a world where you receive relevant information in a social context wherever you are on the Web.”

The new site design emphasizes dynamic content and surfaces the most recent and relevant information and activity through feeds, both on News Feed and the Wall. For developers, the new site design enables even deeper integration within the profile for their applications. By taking advantage of the improvements with feeds on Facebook and the other new features, developers can more efficiently distribute their applications and gain more ways to engage meaningfully with users.

“We’re confident that the new profile and integration points will give entrepreneurs and developers even greater opportunities to build their businesses and deliver on the promise of Facebook Platform,” said Ben Ling, director of platform program management, Facebook. “One goal of the new site design is to align Facebook Platform with users’ interests who will see a new class of applications emerge that provide deeper engagement and a better experience.”

Making the Web More Social with Facebook Connect

Facebook announced that 24 Web sites and applications have joined its efforts to make the Web more open and connected through Facebook Connect. A developer ‘sandbox’ is now available so developers worldwide can start working with Facebook Connect.

Facebook believes that enabling users to take their identity and friends with them around the Web, while trusting that their privacy is protected, makes the Web more open and connected. Facebook Connect allows users to bring their Facebook account information, friends and privacy to any third party website, desktop application or device.

Digg, Six Apart, and Citysearch were featured live during Zuckerberg’s keynote today demonstrating their planned implementations of Facebook Connect. Facebook Connect will be generally available to users in the fall.

“Digg surfaces the best content on the Web as voted on by its community of 26 million,” said Kevin Rose, founder of Digg. “Facebook Connect will help us promote more conversations on Digg by giving Facebook’s 90 million users an opportunity to sign-in to Digg with their Facebook accounts and become part of the active Digg community. This allows both Facebook and Digg users to more easily share the content they care about with the people they care about.”

With Facebook Connect, users benefit from the following features:

• Trusted Authentication – easily authenticate into partner sites using their Facebook account

• Real Identity – leverage their real identity across the Web in a trusted environment

• Friend Linking – take their friends with them wherever they go, enabling trusted social context anywhere on the Web

• Dynamic Privacy – assurance that the same privacy settings users have set up on Facebook will follow them wherever they decide to login throughout the Web

• Social Distribution – share actions on partner sites with their friends back on Facebook through feeds Additional planned participants at launch include: Amiando, CBS.com, CNET, CollegeHumor, Disney-ABC Television Group, Evite, Flock, Hulu, Kongregate, Loopt, Plaxo, Radar, Red Bull, Seesmic, Socialthing!, StumbleUpon, The Insider, Twitter, Uber, Vimeo and Xobni.

Expanding Facebook Platform Internationally

As a result of the worldwide success of Facebook’s translation system, the company has opened up the Translation Application to any developer using Facebook Platform. Beginning today, any Facebook developer can make their application available in any of the 20 languages that are currently available on Facebook, with 69 more coming soon.

Developers can now access the Translation Application to either translate their applications themselves, or open up translation of their application to Facebook users around the world, who will work together to define it in their native languages.

This innovative approach combines the passion of Facebook users with technologies that are systematic and manageable. The Translation Application enables developers to get high-quality, fully-translated applications in front of users, no matter where they live or what language they speak – much faster than ever before, and without ever having to pick up a dictionary.

“Through Facebook’s international platform, the possibilities are endless for both developers and users,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president of growth, Facebook. “With no language barriers to break through, developers can take the stage with an even larger audience of users from all over the world, and users will have access to even more great applications than ever before built by the world’s best developers.”

Helping Developers Succeed

When Facebook Platform launched in 2007, it gave developers the opportunity to create applications that are deeply social and meaningful to users. More than 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs from 160 countries have signed up and developed applications. For the next phase of Platform, Facebook has focused on ensuring that developers have the resources and incentives they need to build applications that deliver on the vision of Facebook Platform.

Facebook launched four new and expanded developer programs and resources:

1) Great Apps Program Facebook’s Great Apps program rewards applications that deliver value to users and advance the Facebook Platform vision. Great Apps embody Facebook’s guiding principles for social applications through their meaningful, trustworthy and well-designed user experiences. Great Apps will gain greater visibility on Facebook, earlier access to new features and more feedback from Facebook. Facebook will open the Great Apps selection process to developers in September.

Facebook is excited to announce iLike and Causes as the inaugural Great Apps. “Facebook Platform provided iLike with an unprecedented opportunity to become one of the world’s leading online music services in just over a year,” said Ali Partovi, CEO of iLike. “I’m delighted that Facebook is committed to recognizing the apps that are most appreciated by users. We expect the Great Apps program to have a very positive impact on the entire Facebook Platform ecosystem.”

“The Causes application enables socially-conscious Facebook users to unlock the power of their social network in order to raise money and awareness for the causes they care about,” said Sean Parker, chairman and co-founder of Causes. “With more than 100,000 causes created by 12 million Facebook users, we’ve had remarkable success building user trust and value on Facebook and we’re excited to join the Great Apps program.”

2) Application Verification Facebook is introducing the Application Verification program which is designed to offer extra assurances to help users identify applications they can trust — applications that are secure, respectful and transparent, and have demonstrated commitment to compliance with Platform policies. Verified applications will benefit from added visibility on Facebook. The program is a complement to Facebook’s ongoing policy enforcement to keep the Platform ecosystem robust, and will be open to developers in September.

3) Expanded fbFund Competition In an effort to grow the Facebook ecosystem, fbFund was introduced last year to provide resources to developers, by eliminating some of the challenges of starting a company. As part of a new competition, Facebook will award nearly $10 million in non-recourse grants to the top 25 applications. In addition to the Facebook judging committee, this year users will test applications and vote on their favorites after the first round deadline of August 29, 2008.

Winners from the first fbFund competition were announced today and include: ConnectedWeddings, CourseFeed by Classtop, GoalCamp, HotBerry, J2Play, LuckyCal, MyListo, Podclass, Trazzler, and Zimride Carpool App.

4) New Developer Website Facebook is introducing a new website for Facebook Platform. Improvements include better navigation and cleaner access to the blog, wiki and forum to encourage community involvement. Facebook will also start highlighting social, meaningful and trustworthy application case studies.

For additional information on the announcements made today at f8, please visit the f8 Press Page at: http://www.facebook.com/f808Press.

About Facebook Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is a privately-held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

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