Most of you have probably seen Facebook’s new “frictionless sharing” apps — like Socialcam or even the Washington Post’s Social Reader — pop up in your news feed, automatically sharing videos your friends have watched (probably without them realising it). Facebook has implemented some new rules to avoid accidental auto-sharing, but it doesn’t make these apps any less of a plague on Facebook. Here’s what you need to know.
For those of you that haven’t seen these yet, apps like Socialcam are simple: one of your friends posts a video via Socialcam, and anyone who clicks on it in their news feed is prompted to install the Socialcam app. In doing so, they give Socialcam permission to publish the fact that they watched that video to their news feed, and every time they watch a Socialcam video thereafter. And thus the app begins to spread amongst all your friends, at best creating more spam, and at worst embarrassing those who don’t realised it’s all being published to their profile.
Facebook’s new rule states that apps like this can no longer publish material until someone has been watching or reading that link for more than 10 seconds. It also requires those apps to be perfectly clear about the fact that, every time you visit a link using that app, that material will be published on Facebook. In addition, they say developers should all allow opt-out mechanisms in their app, so users don’t have to publish this material to Facebook.
Our advice? You should still probably avoid these apps, and encourage your friends to do the same. They cause more angst than they solve, and if you think an article or video really looks interesting, you’re probably better off just googling the title rather than reading it through an app that’s going to spam all your friends. Hit the link to read more, and if you haven’t vetted your Facebook apps in a while, check out our always up-to-date Facebook privacy guide for more information on how to do so.
Platform Updates: Operation Developer Love [Facebook Developer’s Blog]