It’s been two weeks since Facebook removed the apps and games by LOLapps for a weekend for breaking its privacy rules, but that was apparently only a small part of the punishment.
Facebook has slapped a much bigger and far-reaching punishment on LOLapps: a six-month suspension of access to all viral channels. This means, users will not be able to make any wall posts, send invitations, or share content within the feed for any of their apps. Essentially, Facebook is cutting off all of LOLapps’ viral channels.
Curiously, LOLapps latest game, Ravenwood Fair, is exempt from the ban. Inside Social Games speculates that it’s because it was launched after the infraction occurred. A more cynical person would suggest it was made an exception because it’s a fast growing and new game on Facebook (though the counter-argument then is, what about Critter Island which is also popular but not except from the ban?)
Does the punishment fit the crime? LOLapps is being accused of purposely selling user IDs to a third party aggregator, along with numerous other social app developers (though, LOLapps is the only company that creates both social apps and games).
Last week, I noted that all top 10 social games were accused of breaking Facebook rules and sharing private information but only LOLapps was singled out. Though little consolation to users, there is a distinction between selling and sharing private information If a company shares information, it could be a mistake. If you sell information, you are actively breaking the rules. Perhaps that is why LOLapps is being punished hard and other social game companies are being given a warning.
Regardless, by enacting this harsh punishment, Facebook has notified all game partners not to break their privacy rules. Facebook can make your game with its social network, but it can break a game by removing its viral channels with the flick of a switch.
It’ll be interesting to see how big a break this can be. For the first time ever, we’ll be able to track the direct impact of removing viral channels from a game with over 1 million MAUs in traffic. According to Appdata, Critter Island has 1.3 million MAUs as of today. Over the next 6 months, we’ll be able to track how far the usage drops and be able to quantify the value of Facebook’s viral channel.
By punishing LOLapps and Critter Island, Facebook may be exposing the actual real-time value of its social network.
More information at Inside Social Games.