Facebook has just announced that applications on Facebook Platform can now be able to take advantage of the site’s built-in chat functionality, which launched last spring. Developers will now be able to present users with a list of their Facebook Chat buddies, tailoring the list to best suit their application (for example, they can choose to only present friends that already have the app installed).
Facebook users have been able to use Chat and their Facebook apps simultaneously since Chat launched (one of its biggest selling points is that it remains open at the bottom of the screen, no matter where on the site you go). But until now applications didn’t really have a way to tap into the power of Facebook Chat to help make their applications more social.
Aside from adding an enhanced social element to applications, the new feature could also help apps go viral much more quickly than they would using the standard Email invite system most Facebook apps employ. Developers can now present users with a list their friends who are online (even those that don’t necessarily have their apps installed), who they can then send invites via chat messages. Invites sent over chat have a greater sense of urgency and intimacy, so it’s likely that they’ll be more effective than invites sent through the site’s Email system.
Of course, integration with Chat gives apps on Facebook yet another way to try to spam you. In the dark ages of Platform, when every app seemed to spam users with reckless abandon, I might have been more concerned about this, but I suspect Facebook already has some measures in place to prevent abuse. And even if they don’t, you can always just sign out of Chat if things get bad.