'Spammy' social network apps on the way out: Google

Developers of social networking sites are considering sharing blacklists of annoying and 'spammy' applications with each other in an effort to prevent users from switching off Web 2.0 technology.

Developers of social networking sites are considering sharing blacklists of annoying and "spammy" applications with each other in an effort to prevent users from switching off Web 2.0 technology.

Users, suggested in an Ovum report earlier this week, are sick of being bitten, poked and otherwise annoyed by applications on sites such as Facebook that provide little value.

Dan Peterson, product manager for OpenSocial at Google told ZDNet.com.au that most social networking sites are conscious of the issue and are actively seeking out ways to code a system that can weed out the bad from the good in an automated way.

"Today there isn't a way to sort out the spammy apps," he said. "But it's certainly something that is on people's minds. One thing being considered is the sharing of application listings, so that if one container says that an application is too spammy, and let's say we as another [social networking site] trusts that container, we might say, 'I don't want that application bothering my users either'."

Peterson said that there are only some minor "technical and policy questions" to resolve before such an initiative can kick off.

OpenSocial, a set of common APIs that allow developers to write code once for multiple social applications, is likely to provide a forum if not a solution by which such blacklists could be shared.

Led by Google, the initiative has been adopted by dozens of social networking sites including MySpace, Bebo and Hi5. OpenSocial has shipped production code on over a dozen sites, with some 275 million users already having access to applications developed by some 20,000 coders.

Facebook, the darling of the social networking sites, isn't a member of OpenSocial, but Peterson said "anybody is welcome to get involved."

Peterson said many applications, such as the popular music sharing app iLike, are continuing to be developed for both the OpenSocial sites and Facebook.

"There's no reason why people can't do that," he says. "It only takes more effort and resources to build on both platforms.

But if faced with a choice, he expects developers constrained by limited resources to code for a platform that takes their apps more places.

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