Security

Bugs hit Facebook application verification program

Facebook's Application Verification Program, controversial due to its concept of charging developers to have their applications certified as “trustworthy,” has run into technical problems.

Announced in November and launched, the program has system bugs that are preventing developers from reaping some benefits of having paid to have their applications reviewed and approved.

In a thread on the official Facebook developer forum, developers who shelled out the $375 review fee began reporting a variety of system problems.

In that same thread, Facebook acknowledged that at least three of the bugs reported exist and that the company is working to fix them.

For example, the special green checkmark that denotes verified applications' special status isn't appearing in the Applications Directory search results. Consequently, without that special badge, the applications look no different from those posted by developers who didn't pay for the verification.

In addition, some developers are reporting that they can't submit their applications for review because the link to do so doesn't work, another bug Facebook has acknowledged exists for some applications.

Another bug Facebook has acknowledged is that the boost in user notifications and requests that verified applications get isn't always showing up in the developer's control panel stats.

Other developers complained in the thread that they couldn't find their applications at all– green checkmark or not — although this may be due to the way the Facebook algorithms work in displaying certain applications to certain people and not others.

The program became instantly controversial when it was announced in November because critics said developers shouldn't have to pay to have their applications labeled “trustworthy.” They argued that it should be up to Facebook to ensure that applications built for its site comply with this requirement.

In response, Facebook has said that, in fact, all of the more than 52,000 applications on its platform must comply with requirements and policies that make them trustworthy. The Application Verification Program, which is optional, gives developers a chance to make their applications stand out by adopting an additional set of best practices for them regarding user experience and user communications, according to Facebook.

Still, some Facebook developers remain unconvinced about the value of the program, and even more so now with the technical issues affecting it.

“I will not pay to be approved. It's not worth the money. Any good application will do just fine without it,” said Christopher Bourton, games developer and consultant at Lethos Designs in London, which has developed three Facebook applications and is building two more.

Bourton, contacted via e-mail on Thursday, said he fears that the program will create “an elitist two-tier system” in which large developers that can pay the fee will get the benefits, while smaller developers with fewer resources will not be able to afford it.

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