#clear and present danger

Josh Constine of TechCrunch on Facebook shutting off “Find Friends” access to an increasing number of apps/services:

After shutting down data access to several competing apps, Facebook today made two major clarifications to its Platform Policy, banning apps that use its data but make it easy for users to share back to Facebook, or that replicate its core functionality without permission. Facebook Platform Head Justin Osofsky tried to calm fears by noting the majority of developers should “keep doing what you’re doing”.

Essentially, Facebook is saying that there will be “no more free lunch” for these third-party apps. Either share back to Facebook in a major way — content which Facebook can then advertise against — or get lost. Obviously, it’s a pretty shitty stance to take, but it shouldn’t be surprising — Facebook needs to make money.

I’m more surprised to see Facebook screw “competing” apps, because, let’s be honest, at the billion-user scale, no one is really competing with Facebook. At best, this makes them look like bullies. At worst, it makes them look weak and afraid.

I also love the name of the new section in Facebook’s Platform Policy: “Reciprocity”. I can’t help but be reminded of the key operation in Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger. My favorite back-and-forth from the film of the same name:

John Clark: “Reciprocity.” That’s a clever name for it. Revenge is a very, very, very dangerous motivation.

Robert Ritter: Are you able to handle this operation or not? What I’m looking for here is a simple yes or no.

John Clark: What you’re looking for is a political mess.

Robert Ritter: Yes or no?

John Clark: Is that what they want? Because that’s what this is.

Robert Ritter: They want what every first-term administration wants - a second term.