Facebook application plan rankles some developers

By: AP
By: AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook plans to start charging for verifying applications built for the social network - an optional process that has upset some developers despite the company's assurances it will bring plenty of positive benefits.

Platform program manager Sandra Liu Huang said Tuesday that Facebook opened the verification process to developers on Monday.

The process is meant to increase users' trust of applications that are posted on the site and to help developers wanting to build a serious business get more visibility with users, she said.

Initially, developers file a form to register their application, and after it is reviewed by Facebook, the developers fill out paperwork and submit a $375 annual fee for each application. Students and registered non-profits pay $175 for each application they want verified.

Huang said the fee covers costs on Facebook's end related to reviewing the applications, and it will recur each year along with a fresh application review. Eventually, if Facebook finds that the costs of reviewing the applications declines, it would be open to lowering the reverification fee, she said.

Facebook currently has 48,000 applications in its directory, Huang said, and she expects that several hundred will become verified initially.

The benefits of the process will start being seen early next year, she said. Verified applications will sport a special badge and they will also be given more visibility on Facebook - for example, updates from verified applications will be more visible in users' News Feeds.

But some developers who posted on a developer forum on Facebook's Web site were upset by the annual verification fee.

Mike Knoop, 19, who developed an application that lets Facebook users request phone numbers from their friends, is not opposed to paying a fee to participate but doesn't like the idea of paying each year.

"Because its recurring every 12 months, I think that's going to shut out a lot of the smaller developers that don't have the initial capital to invest in Facebook applications," he said.

Knoop works as an unpaid moderator for the Facebook's developer Web forums and said he's not sure yet if he'll apply to the program.

In a statement late Monday, News Corp.-owned social networking site MySpace said that it reviews each application before it is available to site users "and the cost is nominal so we have no plans to charge developers."

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