MySpace Says Zero Tolerance For App Scams, Changes Terms Of Use

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The industry is definitely making big changes to self regulate around social gaming offer scams (complete background here, with updates). Zynga, the largest social gaming company and the worst offender when it comes to scams, said yesterday that they will take steps to remove scams from games. They were quickly followed by RockYou.

Today MySpace is making a big move itself. They are instituting a “zero tolerance for app scams” policy, says CEO Owen Van Natta, and are amending their apps developer terms of use to further restrict the types of offers than can be presented to users.

The existing terms of use already prohibit many types of scams and require clear and accurate descriptions of offers. But as we’ve shown in previous posts, sometimes a clear and accurate description hidden at the bottom of a page in 8 point type isn’t all that useful.

The addition MySpace is adding a requirement to have users opt in to any specific offer or promotion that includes a renewal or subscription.

Today, we’re adding a fifth principle that clarifies a specific use case that we feel is particularly damaging to the user experience: promotions that include hidden renewals without specific opt-in will not be permitted. Because it’s our belief opt-out offers are misleading and do not have the best interests of the users in mind, we will be updating our Terms of Use this week to better clarify this for users and developers.

Rules are great, but without enforcement the scammy offers never go away (this is the Facebook problem). MySpace says they will enforce these rules and will remove applications that don’t modify practices promptly:

Principles and policies are nothing without action and we will continue to enforce our Terms of Use to put our users first. If we find or are notified of violations of our Terms of Use we will contact the application developer and require that they modify their practices and adhere to our Terms. If we do not receive a prompt and appropriate response we will, as we have in the past, remove the offending application from the MySpace platform.

The proof is in the pudding, of course. But this is yet another big company stepping up to try to put a stop to social gaming application scams. It’s time for Facebook to make their move.

Here’s the full blog post:

MySpace’s Zero Tolerance Policy for App Scams

There has been increased discussion recently about how some application developers on the Web’s major social platforms are misleading consumers with deceptive practices. It’s important that users and developers clearly understand MySpace’s policies and approach to these activities.

The MySpace Apps Terms of Use clearly state that we prohibit any deceptive, misleading, and unfair activity through developer applications on MySpace. The Terms of Use require developers to provide accurate information to users and comply with specific rules around what information is being collected, payment terms, and promotional offers. They also prohibit spam and other malicious use.

Our Terms of Use were drafted with the following four principles in mind:

1. All MySpace users are entitled to a safe, scam-free application experience.

2. All offers to MySpace users must have a clear and accurate description which is not misleading or deceptive to users.

3. All offers to MySpace users must have a clear and conspicuous explanation of cost with no hidden fees.

4. No application is permitted to incentivize a user to provide their personal information in exchange for virtual goods or currency within the application.

Today, we’re adding a fifth principle that clarifies a specific use case that we feel is particularly damaging to the user experience: promotions that include hidden renewals without specific opt-in will not be permitted.

Because it’s our belief opt-out offers are misleading and do not have the best interests of the users in mind, we will be updating our Terms of Use this week to better clarify this for users and developers.

Principles and policies are nothing without action and we will continue to enforce our Terms of Use to put our users first. If we find or are notified of violations of our Terms of Use we will contact the application developer and require that they modify their practices and adhere to our Terms. If we do not receive a prompt and appropriate response we will, as we have in the past, remove the offending application from the MySpace platform.

Developers are our partners and we want to continue our collaborative and meaningful relationship with the development community. Having recently acquired iLike we have access to some of the most successful social application developers with a wealth of knowledge to inform us how we can have a smarter, more thoughtful application strategy.

If you have any questions about these policies or principles please reach out to our Partner Relations team at partnerrelations@myspace-inc.com.

We appreciate all of the feedback we’ve received from our users and developers and look forward to more great things to come for the MySpace Application Platform.

-Owen

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