Facebook deletes iPhone apps from its system

Some iPhone app developers found their Facebook accounts deleted without warning Tuesday, leaving many apps made for the site not working.

Jim Dalrymple Special to CNET News
Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.
Jim Dalrymple
3 min read

Some iPhone developers that make apps for Facebook got quite a surprise on Tuesday--their developer credentials had been deleted, without warning, leaving their apps and customers high and dry.

All Facebook developers have their own set of credentials so their apps can communicate with the APIs provided by the company. When iPhone apps contact Facebook, the site responds and recognizes the developers' credentials, allowing the apps to do their intended jobs. Without those credentials, apps error out.

NodConcept's Chris Diskin, makers of the Emoti for Facebook app, said he was contacted via e-mail on Monday by Apple saying that Facebook believed his app was infringing on their rights. They provided him with contact info at Facebook and said he had five days to resolve the issue.

Diskin told CNET that he immediately called Facebook and was told they would get back to him to explain the issue. They never contacted him, instead choosing to delete his developer credentials from the system.

"We ensure that applications that access Facebook user data adhere to Facebook Platform policies," Facebook's representative Malorie Lucich said in an e-mail to CNET. "Those applications that do not comply are subject to enforcement, which can include disabling or limiting their access to Facebook APIs."

Diskin finally got a call late Tuesday saying he is infringing on Facebook's rights because he uses the word "Facebook" in his app name to let people know what it does. However, he said he would have no issue with changing it if it's a problem. What's upsetting for him, he said, is that action was taken without giving him a chance to make the changes first.

"I am 100 percent okay with making the changes they've requested," said Diskin. "All we've done up to now is play by rules that appeared to be accepted based on all the other apps on the App Store. Many, many apps use the 'F' and 'Facebook' on them. Up to now, it hasn't been an issue, then suddenly 'chop,' app deleted."

Diskin isn't the only Facebook developer hit by sudden deletion of their iPhone developer credentials on Tuesday. Ky Vu, the developer of iLoader, was also affected by the change.

"I'm not exactly sure if it is trademark or not because I don't use 'Facebook' in the name of my app," Vu told CNET. "I use a somewhat similar 'F' in my icon, so I'm guessing that might be the issue. I was not told what the issue is and got no reply from my call or e-mail."

Like Diskin, Vu said he had no issue with making necessary changes, if he had been told what the issues were.

Both developers said they tried other apps that use the Facebook API and they seem to be having the same problem.

Diskin said Emoti for Facebook has been renamed to Emoti and is being submitted to Apple today for approval. In the meantime, his customers will receive error messages when they try to use the app.

While Facebook's Lucich says, "we are happy to answer questions from developers and work with them to get their apps into compliance as appropriate," it appears, at least according to two developers accounts, that it's not answering too quickly.

Vu said he's not sure what to do since Facebook won't return his e-mails or calls.

Facebook' s Lucich added that offending apps will also be removed from the Apple's App Store.

"Applications that are in clear violation of our Platform policies around trademark infringement and affiliation will be removed from the App Store by Apple," she said in an e-mail.

CNET has asked Apple for clarification and whether apps will be removed from the App Store, but representatives were not immediately available to answer.