App developers, take note – As the redesigned Facebook Timeline profile rolls out over the next few weeks, Facebook will be keeping a close eye on new Open Graph apps to limit spam and enhance the user experience. The platform will manually review and approve all Open Graph apps, similar to the approval process that Apple uses before apps can be launched through the App Store. We urge app developers to take appropriate compliance measures. Users value useful and transparent apps. Spammy apps are frustrating and lower the overall quality of user experience.
Recent legal and policy developments indicate a push for platforms to take more responsibility for the actions of third party app developers. In proposed amendments to COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), platforms would be required to take reasonable measures to ensure that third parties with access to children’s personal information have privacy and security measures in place to protect the information.
Think that you can still avoid enforcement? Guess again. In a recent FTC enforcement action against W3 Innovations, the children’s mobile app developer was required to pay a $50,000 penalty for violation of COPPA data collection and use rules. Further government action against idle app developers is certain to come.
We don’t believe that platforms should be legally responsible for controlling third party apps via mandate. However, apps that misbehave encourage government intervention. To avoid this, developers can take responsibility for their own apps, which will also alleviate the burden on platforms and operators in screening products. Consider the privacy and security implications of your product and be honest about how your app operates. Such self-regulation is in the best interest of users is the most effective way to meet app distribution platform requirements and prevent costly government penalties.