Facebook Limits Auto-Sharing Via Open Graph Apps

Global-GraphWith its rollout of Timeline and Open Graph apps last year, Facebook gave users the ability to tell friends what they were “watching,” “listening to” or “reading” among other activities via the apps and automatically share those social actions through the Timeline and news feed.

Beyond the default actions, marketers and other app developers also had the option to create custom actions related to their apps, like “cooking,” “eating” or “browsing.” But today, Facebook announced that apps built with Open Graph will automatically share only built-in actions: “Like,” “Follow,” “Listen,” “Read” or “Watch” (a video, movie, TV show or TV episode).

In a blog post today, Facebook explained the change was aimed at improving the user experience:

“Apps that help people automatically share stories about content as they consume it, such as the music you are listening to, can be good experiences when apps create clear expectations for the user of what is being shared and when,” wrote Henry Zhang, a Facebook product engineer. “When apps automatically publish stories on a person’s behalf in a way that is unexpected, such as when they browse an online store, it can surprise and confuse people.”

The company said developers using buttons for custom actions like “browse” in apps would have to switch to one of the five built-in actions in the next 90 days. If none are a good fit, “we encourage you to build a different experience that helps people share meaningful stories with friends on Facebook,” Zhang advised.

According to the blog Inside Facebook, the new rule would not affect games, promotions or other apps that require users to take a specific action that can be shared, such as earning a high score or claiming a coupon. But apps like Foodily, which automatically broadcasts that users “found an item after clicking a recipe link," would have to change.

The blog reported that Rotten Tomatoes, which previously shared when users “checked out reviews,” has apparently already discontinued this action.

In connection with newly released Open Graph guidelines and Facebook Platform policies, Facebook is also doing away with features that it said led to poor user experiences. That includes eliminating “authenticated referrals” -- the permissions request people see when clicking a link for an app -- because it provided too little context when asking for authorization to share data.

Facebook is also removing the option that allows people to post to friends walls through the Open Graph API because it has led to negative user feedback, including “Hides” and “Mark as Spam.”

Conversely, the social network will feature posts with images or related to location more prominently in the news feed and Timeline. Facebook said photocentric updates have shown 70% more clicks for apps that provide high-quality, relevant imagery.

“In certain cases, we have seen these stories generate up to 50x more Likes than equivalent story types from before. The new location stories provide double-digit gains in distribution to apps,” noted the Facebook blog post. The company said updates from Open Graph apps on average generate 50% higher click-throughs than similar ones from other Facebook APIs like stream.publish

Next story loading loading..