Is Facebook Playing Favorites With App Developers?

Facebook has taken steps to limit application spam numerous times in the past. One of the recent steps they took was to specifically limit the number of daily invitations that users could send out to others – going from a hard cap of 20/day to a variable rate that takes into account the rate of declines by recipients. All of these steps are designed to limit the barrage of messages that the average Facebook user gets asking them to add applications.

The details of the rules seem fairly trivial, but they have a big impact on the third party developers trying to build a business on Facebook. And remember that Facebook isn’t simply doing them a favor by letting them on the platform – OpenSocial gives these developers other options to get access to users. And remember that Facebook invited these devlopers with open arms, even setting up a fund to provide investment capital.

So when developers noticed that CBS seems to be playing by different rules than everyone else they were understandably irate. CBS’ March Madness facebook application, which is being promoted as “The Official Tournament Brackets On Facebook,” allows users to invite up to 100 friends per day. Competitors must play under the existing rules – three that I checked out had a limit of just 18 invites/day. Facebook and CBS announced a partnership around March Madness earlier this month.

The pools all close Thursday at noon, so application developers are scrambling to try and add users. Facebook seems to be playing favorites with CBS based on a revenue relationship. This isn’t the first or even the second time Facebook has shown a willingness to prioritize their own interests over those of their developers. Now, it seems, they may be open to trading revenue for special treatment, too.

I have an email in to Facebook for comment, and will update this post with any response.