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How to make money on Facebook: No one knows

It's a good time to experiment with Facebook apps, a panel says. Especially since we don't really know what the business is going to look like in a few months.

Hooman Radfar: Terms of Service agreements are made to be broken. Brian Solis

On Monday at the Graphing Social Patterns conference, I moderated a panel about making money from Facebook apps, with Giles Goodwin of Widgetbox, Hooman Radfar of Clearspring, and Jeff Nolan of Newsgator. It's a complicated question, especially for companies that have existing Web-based businesses. When do you start work on a Facebook app? Will a Facebook product cannibalize your other Web products? Can an online business survive on Facebook exclusively?

The panel agreed on just about nothing, which is indicative of a market in a very early stage of development. My favorite issue came from an audience question. John Furrier asked, Is the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) an inhibitor to innovation, or a useful framework? Radfar said that smart businesses will always push, or even violate, a platform's TOS when building new products. "It's open to negotiation," he said. Nolan extended the thought: Companies don't own their terms of service, he said. "Users dictate" the TOS that they will support.

Brian Solis wrote a summary of the panel discussion on his site, Bub.blicio.us.