Facebook Platform Grows Up: Verified Apps Soon Going Live

Nearly a year after it was originally announced , Facebook’s Verified Applications program is finally preparing to go live, with plans to deploy it in the next few weeks. The program will likely play a key role in the success of applications going forward, and is something that has really been needed since day one.

One of the longstanding issues with Facebook Platform is that it largely fails to weed out the terrible, spammy apps from the good ones. And with 52,000 applications available on the platform, that’s a problem. Sure, you could always look at user reviews to see how an application was viewed by the community, but I’d rather have Facebook’s stamp of approval before I go handing my personal data to an anonymous developer.

This will only become more important once Facebook deploys its long-awaited Payment Platform, which is also about the begin testing with a limited number of developers. Facebook may be able to make sure that your transactions will be secure through the coming platform, but it won’t be able to guarantee that the virtual goods that you’re actually paying for will be worth the pixels they’re printed on, unless they’re from Verified Applications.

The news has been a long time coming. Developers have been growing antsy since paying the program’s $375 annual fee without any indication as to when it would actually launch other than “early 2009”.

Alongside the launch of Verified Apps, Facebook is also making some major changes to the way its application directory runs. The application directory’s homepage is now taking a News Feed format, displaying some of your friend’s recent activities from other third party apps. This is a big change, as it will help applications virally spread between friends (if I see my friend is playing a certain game, I’ll be more likely to join that one than another game).

The other major change is to the way Facebook application profiles are dealt with. Previously application pages were similar to Facebook groups – you could see a basic list of conversations going on around an app as well as some reviews. Now they’re going to be treated like public profile pages, which means application developers will be able to communicate with users through their News Feed updates. Facebook will also be tweaking the available categories for applications, which have been the same since the platform’s launch in 2007.