Facebook Rolls Out Verified App Program, Plus One Hell Of A Revenue Model For Themselves

Facebook is launching its “Verified Apps” program today. The program was first announced over the summer at their F8 Developer Conference – Third party applications will be segmented into “Great Apps” (currently reserved for iLike and Causes), “Verified Apps” (trusted apps, just not the best of the best), and everything else.

Facebook says they expect at least 10% of the 48,000 applications currently available to eventually become Verified Apps, although they won’t speculate beyond that. Apps that get the Verified designation will be given a special badge to place on the application, designation on the application directory, plus a few other bonuses like advertising credits and easier rules on how many notifications, emails and invitations they can send out to users.

The guidelines for acceptance are here, and consist primarily of proving that they are “trustworthy.” This is determined based on how secure, respectful and transparent the apps are:

Secure: Protects user data and honors privacy choices for everyone across the social graph. Facebook users are deliberate and specific about which data they choose to share, how they share it, and with whom. All applications must respect users’ choices and the choices of their friends by only accessing, using and sharing data users have explicitly allowed. Users put their trust in Facebook, our Platform and your applications. This trust enables us to provide with social information for your applications. So it is up to all of us to earn and maintain user trust.

Respectful: Values user attention and honors their intentions in communications and actions. Users trust that when they use your application, you will represent their intent and best interests, especially the messages you send about them or on their behalf. The more control you give them over how you represent them, the more likely they are to trust your application and want to use it more. Make sure to also value users’ time by employing proper communication channels and neither spamming users, nor encouraging them to become spammers.

Transparent: Explains how features will work and how they won’t work, especially in triggering user-to-user communications. Nothing is more frustrating than to click a button expecting one thing to happen and having something entirely different and confusing happen instead. Even worse is sending communications to a user’s friends that the user did not intend or want to send. This can undermine a user’s personal relationships and deters users from freely communicating on Facebook and through applications. The best applications are clear about their features and don’t try to deceive users.

Developers can apply now for the program, and will be slotted for a much longer application process at a later date. Once all apps are reviewed the program will go live, sometime early next year.

This Will Be A Serious Revenue Machine For Facebook.

There’s just one catch – developers must pay a $375 to “cover some of the operational costs of the program.” If every application applied, that would be $18 million in incremental revenue to Facebook. Our guess is half or more will apply. Certifications are good for one year, so this revenue is recurring.

Developers are given three chances to get approval (with feedback along the way). If they fail after the third attempt, they can re-apply 3-6 months down the road.