Facebook is now taking user privacy and improving the user experience very seriously. As part of its ongoing improvement program the rules for allowing publication of a story have been updated. Henceforth they will only allow actions that have been actively taken by the user to be published to the news feed.
At present applications can publish alerts to the news feed whenever a user profile gets updated, whether this is done by the user themselves or due to a third-party action via an application on the user’s profile. For example, if a user receives a virtual gift from a friend, the application can publish this to the news feed, even though the user has not done anything themselves.
In a month’s time, passive events, or third party reporting of an act will not be allowed to be published to the news feed. This is because Facebook wants to reserve its most valuable feature, which gets the most user eyeballs, to maintain the highest standards and only publish stories that are relevant to user activity, rather than publishing poorly masked promotional activity from third-party providers.
Technical details about the change in policy can be found on the Facebook Developers blog.
Facebook expects all developers to discontinue usage of the old, passive format of reporting, at the earliest. They may contact their users or use other means to enforce the necessary changes if they think it appropriate to do so.
Ultimately, this is good news for users. It will not only improve their experience on Facebook, but also shows that Facebook has been listening to user feedback provided via the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘x’ rating icons alongside every news feed item.