Facebook to open its doors to third-party developers

27 Apr 2009

Provided its 200 million users agree, Facebook is planning to allow third-party software developers to access user data to build next-generation software applications and services.

The move comes just after Facebook launched a new set of terms and conditions, after a vote to decide whether the new T&Cs would be adopted saw only 600,000 users – just over 1pc – participate.

The vote was organised when users expressed outrage at Facebook’s decision in February to make changes to its existing terms of service that gave it ownership of users’ data, even if a user’s membership expired or they deleted the account.

Until now, Facebook has kept a tight rein over developers’ interaction with the website.

However, the new strategy would give developers the ability to build applications that access user videos, photos, notes and comments.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, allowing software developers to access shared data would represent a major step-up in Facebook’s attack on the growing popularity of micro-blogging site Twitter.

The most obvious sign of this is the introduction of the Stream interface, which despite users largely expressing their disdain for the new look, has seen interaction increase exponentially.

Facebook has been making strong advances towards developers in recent months, and in Dublin, the company, which is recruiting 70 staff to run its European HQ, held a developers’ garage to discuss ways developers can work with the company.

The new plans are to be discussed today at a meeting in California. It is understood Facebook doesn’t intend to charge developers for the service, hoping instead that the measures will instill loyalty from both developers, and ultimately its users.

By John Kennedy