Facebook’s wretched application platform

facebook-logo During 2007, Facebook released an API (Application Programming Interface) that allows third party developers to create “applications” that run within Facebook, accessible by Facebook users and that have the ability to interact with Facebook accounts. Unfortunately, in contrast to Apple’s iPhone App Store, Facebook place little restriction on what sort of application can be developed and they care even less about the quality of such applications. As a result, these days the average Facebook “news feed” is a cluttered malaise of lame and pointless messages from third party applications that Facebook users have added to their profiles. It was quite simply the worst decision Facebook have ever made and remains so to this day, in my opinion.

I now as a matter of course hide these applications whenever they appear in my news feed, because they are almost 100% of the time always absolute garbage. It’s come to my attention recently that I now have quite an extensive list of applications in my “hide list”, just one short of a hundred in fact:

  1. All About Me
  2. Are You A Top Or Bottom?
  3. Are You Gay?
  4. Are you just ONE in a 1 MILLION?
  5. Bejeweled Blitz
  6. Bouncing Balls
  7. Daily Horoscope
  8. FarmVille
  9. Friends For Sale!
  10. Gem Blitz
  11. Get To Know Me
  12. Hottest Person Contest
  13. How average is my life?
  14. How Big is your Penis?
  15. How Common is your name?
  16. How Dateable are you
  17. How Dirty is your mind?
  18. How girly are you?
  19. How Good Are U At Gay Sex
  20. How good are YOU in bed?
  21. How good is your Grammar?
  22. How good is your medical knowledge?
  23. How Jewish are You?
  24. How long would you survive in the ghetto?
  25. How many Sex Partners will you have?
  26. How MEAN are you?
  27. How Retarded are You?
  28. How Sexy are you?
  29. How Sexy is your Zodiac Sign?
  30. How will you DIE!?
  31. If you’re single, take this quiz.
  32. iHeart
  33. Jewel Puzzle
  34. Know-It-All Trivia
  35. Likeness
  36. LivingSocial
  37. Lollipop
  38. Meaning Behind Your Name!
  39. MindJolt Games
  40. My Aquarium
  41. My Polls
  42. Nicest Person Contest
  43. Plastic, Nerd, Jock, Emo, Loner, Popular, or Normal?
  44. Polls
  45. Reign of Vampires
  46. Roller Coaster Kingdom
  47. Send Your Friends a HAPPY THOUGHT!
  48. Send Your Friends a Slap on the butt!
  49. Sorority Sisters
  50. Super Slot Machines
  51. Superhero City
  52. Tango Head Masher 3000
  53. Tattoodle
  54. Test your english
  55. Texas HoldEm Poker
  57. The London Underground Test
  58. The Official Michael Jackson Quiz
  59. What “Periodic Element” are you?
  60. What % Gay are you?
  61. What animal is your spirit guide?
  62. what coulor looks good on u?
  63. What do Your Eyes Say About You?
  64. What does your Eye Color reveal about you?
  65. What Era Should You Time Travel To?
  66. What is the name of the man you’ll marry?
  67. What is your Dream House?
  68. What is your patronus?
  69. What Kind of Gay Are you?
  70. What kind of heart are you?
  71. What Michael Jackson Song are You?
  72. what part of manchester are YOU really from?
  73. What Psychiatric Disorder do you have?
  74. What role will you play in the Apocalypse?
  75. What Tattoo Should You Get?
  76. What type of Flight Attendant are you?
  77. What type of gay are you?
  78. What will your Son’s name be?
  79. What’s Your Best Quality?
  80. What’s your geek level?
  81. What’s your Maturity Level?
  82. What’s your old lady name?
  83. What’s your true choir personality?
  84. Where in Stockport are you from?
  85. Which ‘Prisoner Cell Block H’ character are you?
  86. Which “Spaced” character are you?
  87. Which Airline are you?
  88. Which color is your aura?
  89. Which Friends Character are you?
  90. Which Gilligan’s Island Character are you?
  91. Which Muppet are you?
  92. Which of your Chakras is most open?
  93. which part of Salford are you from? INIT
  94. Which Tube line are you?
  95. Who is your lifetime match?
  96. who loves you?
  97. Who would be your celebrity boyfriend?
  98. You’re sooo Good Looking
  99. Your Tarot Card Reading

This list in all likelihood represents only a tiny fraction of all the lame applications available on Facebook. They’re just not necessary, any of them.

For comparison, I only use two applications (in addition to the standard Facebook applications such as Photos, Video, etc):

  1. Twitter – allows me to update my Facebook status via Twitter
  2. Friendwheel – generates a visual representation of the links between you and your friends, but without posting garbage to your wall (and thus other peoples’ news feeds).

That’s it, and I could easily live without the second one. The first one is however genuinely useful and to not use it would simply create more work for me updating social networking sites.

The madness has to stop some day.

Update 14/09/2009: It would seem that Facebook are finally listening with the launch of Facebook Lite, a version of Facebook designed for slower computers and low bandwidth Internet connections. One of its best features is that it does not include Facebook applications anywhere. You cannot access them and they do not show up in the news feed. Result! Now all that’s needed is to have that as an option on the full version of the site. Also, my list of hidden applications is now over 120 long.


  • I can’t remember if Bebo was Facebooked or Facebook was Beboed… but I swore a bit (actually quite a bit) and slunked back to Friendsreunited, which is actually quite good and you don’t always get a baby when you participate. Apparently.

  • I never used Bebo, nor did I ever use MySpace which I understand suffered similar problems and I remember there being quite an outcry in the Facebook community when Facebook launched their API, with people exclaiming that Facebook would just become like MySpace. Turns out their fears weren’t entirely unjustified.