Facebook rolls out what appears to be a fine move: Verify applications are trustworthy and validate them. I could use the help given I don't download a lot of Facebook apps since a lot of them would be described as crap. But this seemingly straightforward effort has raised a ruckus because Facebook is (gasp!) charging an annual fee to validate apps.
The contrast over this Facebook announcement is a bit comical.
Facebook's Sandra Liu Huang writes:
As members of the Facebook Platform developer community, many of you spend a lot of time thinking about how to create new social experiences that are valuable to users. We know that you want to make sure that your applications have visibility so users can discover, try out and regularly engage with them. That’s why we’re opening registration today for our Application Verification program — an optional new program designed to provide your applications with a way to stand out and reassure users that they will provide a good experience.
Badges for verified applications will appear to users early next year, beginning in an application's About Page and the Application Directory. We'll do our part to help educate users to recognize the verification badge as a symbol for applications that are respectful, transparent and meet the guiding principles for trustworthiness. In addition, users will see more information from verified applications as we increase their allocations for communication channels such as requests and notifications, and increase visibility of their stories in News Feed.
The rub: Huang notes that there's a $375 fee for verification (details). This fee "helps us cover some of the operational costs of the program; students and non-profits are eligible for special pricing." See Facebook's FAQ for more.
You can see where this is headed. A fee! It's a racket! It's the latest monetization model!
TechCrunch's Michael Arrington notes that the fee is part of one fine revenue model. Later, he calls the verification program a protection racket--not that there's anything wrong with it as long as Facebook admits it.
The other alternative: Facebook is really just trying to offset the cost, time and effort for verifying applications.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but one thing is clear: If any company other than Facebook did this verification fee thing the ruckus wouldn't be nearly as large.