For 7 years Facebook managed its Platform in a way that systematically violated user privacy in order to maximize Facebook's growth and profits. The FTC told Facebook to stop violating privacy in 2012. Instead of taking obvious measures to protect user privacy, Facebook started threatening to shut off friend data to companies in late 2012 unless they made extravagant, unrelated purchases in Facebook's new mobile ads product. Zuckerberg did this in order to keep Facebook's advertising business from collapsing because it had been built exclusively for desktop computers.

Facebook's entire business today has been built on this fraudulent scheme where Zuckerberg's "reciprocity policy" was used to justify repeated privacy violations in a pay-to-play scheme that traded friend data for unrelated purchases in Facebook's mobile ads. Zuckerberg has made developers the patsy for this scheme for far too long. Facebook has repeatedly taken advantage of the fact that it alone sets the rules in a $227 billion economy in which it is also one of the largest players. This anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior is against the law and must stop. Tell Zuckerberg we will no longer be his patsy!

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play Watch how Facebook implemented the biggest bait and switch scheme in the software industry's history, shutting down 40,000 software applications by blaming them for Facebook's own privacy abuses.

Our Demands for Promoting Fairness and Competition in Facebook's $227 Billion App Economy

Transparent and Explicit User Control Over Data

For years Facebook failed to provide developers with any privacy information and made it impossible for users to understand how apps use their data. Facebook then blamed apps for this clear violation of user privacy even though these privacy violations were Facebook's responsibility. Facebook must give users full control over their data regardless of whether they download a third party app or not and must explain on the main privacy settings page exactly what apps can access. Facebook must also re-open the graph and require users explicitly to consent to any information apps may access about them.

Regulatory Oversight of Platform Policies

For years, Facebook's Growth team overseen by Javier Olivan weaponized Facebook's policy and privacy apparatus to wipe out competition and unfairly accelerate the transition of Facebook's advertising platform to mobile phones. Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate its own Platform. Regulators must ensure that the product and growth teams at Facebook cannot manipulate the policy and privacy teams into justifying questionable and illegal conduct.

Establish a Platform
Bill of Rights

Users and developers must be protected in Facebook Platform's massive economy. Both users and developers should have actionable legal rights enshrined in Facebook's policies and subject to FTC oversight, in particular a commitment from Facebook not to take action that misleads users about how their data is used; that gives competitive advantages to certain companies based exclusively on the degree of financial consideration offered to Facebook; and further that Facebook will not engage in deceptive practices that give its own products advantages over other products built on Facebook Platform.

5 Year Core API Stability Guarantee

Building a business in less than 5 years is silly. Facebook must ensure the stable operating system it promised developers on a timeframe that is reasonable to build a business and generate a return on investment.

Establish a
Developer Forum

Developers must have due process to have their grievances heard and evaluated under the Bill of Rights, including a commitment from Facebook to respond to all grievances within 72 hours and provide for escalation mechanisms to senior management and truly independent authorities.

Join Ongoing Litigation to Protect Developers in Facebook's App Economy

In Spring 2019, a California jury will decide whether Facebook engaged in a fraudulent and anti-competitive scheme designed by Zuckerberg in 2012 to weaponize friend data and other Platform APIs to save Facebook's advertising business, which was collapsing due to the transition from desktop computers to smartphones. The most valuable APIs in Platform were privatized and used as trading tools to force developers to purchase Facebook's new mobile advertising product, and then when obvious privacy issues arose from Facebook's weaponization of this data, Facebook used these privacy issues as an excuse to wipe out competition in messaging, photo and video sharing and numerous other consumer app categories. If you've been impacted by this or a similar change, contact us immediately. You may qualify to participate in this litigation and have your grievances heard in court.

Please email us with the name and description of your product and business, as well as a short statement of how your application was impacted by Facebook. We will respond to all inquiries within 72 hours. We are very close to setting a precedent that Facebook has engaged in anti-competitive behavior in violation of California law and to protect consumers and companies who rely on Platform economies in the future. Join us!

Facebook App Economy Documentary

Watch the full story of why and how Facebook took advantage of small Developers in violation of California law.

From 2007 to 2014, Facebook continued to open its graph and expand the amount of content Developers could access. It enticed and trained them to build businesses using this content. It benefited from those businesses immensely.

Throughout this time, Facebook repeatedly violated user privacy and then successfully placed the blame on developers in order to wipe out competition in a wide range of markets. Facebook's entire business has been built from the fruit of this deceptive scheme where Zuckerberg weaponized his Platform and repeatedly violated user trust to transition Facebook's desktop advertising business to mobile phones.

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Timeline of Facebook's App Economy

May 24, 2007
Facebook Platform launches to transform Facebook into an "operating system to run full applications," promising the "same level of integration as applications built by Facebook Developers." Users would now have access to "a virtually limitless set of applications" and "an unprecedented amount of choice". Facebook "welcomed Developers with competing applications, including Developers whose applications might compete with Facebook-built applications."
July 2007
Zuckerberg tells Time Magazine that "whole companies are forming whose only product is a Facebook Platform application. That provides an opportunity for them, it provides an opportunity for people who want to make money by investing in those companies."
September 2007
Facebook sets up a $10 million fund to give equity free grants to Facebook Developers in order to "entice an even larger group of people to become entrepreneurs and build a compelling business on Facebook Platform."
December 2007
Facebook grew from 24 million users at the time Platform was announced to 58 million users.
Facebook hosts countless Developer meetups and hackathons training Developers how to access this content and explaining the long term benefits of building their applications on top of a social operating system. Facebook releases numerous promotional and instructional videos helping Developers build, grow and monetize their businesses on Facebook Platform.
April 10, 2010
With over 600 million users, Facebook doubles down on its commitment to Platform by announcing Open Graph and Graph API, which opened up entire new content categories for Developers to build applications.
October 21, 2010
Facebook announces a $250M fund with a leading VC to invest in Platform apps.
September 2011
Platform had created 182,000 jobs and $12 billion of value in the U.S. economy alone. Facebook boasts over 850 million users.
September 24, 2011
Facebook announces that Developers can now build "a completely new class of apps" in the Open Graph in order to "expand the set of industries and products that are becoming social" to "help you discover new things through your friends".
April 30, 2014
Zuckerberg announces Graph API versioning and a 2-year stability guarantee for certain content to "make sure the apps we all wrote two years ago keep working" so now Developers "will get to decide which version of the API they build against". Hours later, Facebook publishes a policy that directly contradicts Zuckerberg's announcement. The policy shuts down access to all open graph content, but makes no reference to it other than one line at the end of the announcement stating "In addition to the above, we are removing several rarely used API endpoints" with no mention that the "several rarely used endpoints" happened to make up the entire access to the open graph.
May 1, 2014
Facebook begins sending notices to Developers telling them "to upgrade their apps" within one year, not the two years Zuckerberg had just promised. To many Developers, it was not clear what upgrade even meant.
June 2014
Facebook Developers are so outraged by the change that it becomes obvious the endpoints were not "rarely used". Facebook begins a media offensive to show how privacy was the real reason for the change, stating publicly on a number of occasions that "In the past, users had no way of choosing what information they want to share with app Developers". This statement is plainly false as the privacy interface today is identical to the previous interface. The interface gives users full control over access to their data and Facebook represented this publicly for over seven years. Users could determine which information to share with third party apps and also had the ability to shut off all third party access to their information. The problem is that Facebook hid these privacy settings for Apps Others Use and never explained to users that their main privacy settings did not apply at all to apps they didn't download. Facebook continued to manufacture this user consent for years after the FTC told it to stop.
July 2014
Facebook announces "Moments", its intelligent photo application, and Instagram's Search & Explore feature to capitalize on its new monopoly around Facebook users' media like photos and videos. Right when Facebook removed the ability for Developers to compete around media, it announced two products to take advantage of this monopoly it created for itself.
September 2015
The Wall Street Journal publishes a report on the wide-reaching impacts of Facebook's bait and switch tactics, noting that hundreds if not thousands of businesses, people and families have been impacted. The WSJ also notes that user privacy and control likely suffers as a result of the change.
June 2016
After waiting for over a year, a California judge finally rules in favor of a small Developer proceeding on four claims related to unfair competition under California and common law.
October 2016
Facebook claims it had the right to break the hundreds of promises it made to Developers over seven years because of one line in its policy that says "we can limit your access to data". This line is common in many APIs and is routinely interpreted as a rate-limiting policy in which Facebook can limit the amount of data a Developer can access over a period of time. Facebook maintains this policy here and currently limits access to data to "200 calls per hour per user in aggregate". Further, Facebook lists 10 specific ways it can limit Developer access to data and none of these ways specifies that Facebook may remove content in its entirety that it previously enticed and trained Developers to use to invest in and build businesses.
December 1, 2016 launches to unite Developers around this issue and dispel the illusion that the law affords them no protection against Facebook unfairly taking advantage of their time, capital and labor.
January 2017
Facebook removes the case to federal court in order to vacate the state court calendar and delay the trial for two years. The case is remanded back to state court less than a month later.
November 2017
Facebook files an Anti-SLAPP Motion 1,000 days after the case began claiming that the thousands of contracts it entered into with developers are void because the contracts, which Facebook drafted, violate Facebook's free speech rights as a media and publishing company.
December 2017
A California appellate court determines that Mark Zuckerberg and five other senior Facebook executives - Chris Cox, Javier Olivan, Sam Lessin, Michael Vernal and Ilya Sukhar - can be sued personally for their abusive and deceptive management of Facebook Platform.
January 2018
Facebook uses an arcane provision in California law to remove the Judge assigned to the case without any explanation as to how the Judge was prejudiced against Facebook, causing many more months of delay before a California jury can decide if Facebook's management of its Platform violates California law.
April 2019
A California jury will decide if Facebook acted in violation of California's fair competition laws and establish the first precedent around whether the law affords people, businesses and families protection from this predatory behavior.

In the meantime, we need you to get involved. Share your story and join our effort — we simply don't know how far reaching the impacts of Facebook's bait and switch tactics have been on businesses and investors, not to mention the people and families behind them. Please do your part — join our effort today!

About Us

The Facebook App Economy website was created to serve as an information resource for people and businesses who have been impacted by Facebook's unfair and deceptive practices. Anyone who has been impacted can use this website to sign up for updates that follow the course of the litigation and to learn how they may protect their rights.

This website also serves as a forum for increased public awareness of the harm caused by a lack of regulation in Platform economies. This is an issue of great importance to the public, the legal system and the global economy. Today, some of the largest economies in the world have their rules made and monitored by companies who also get to play in the very game they police. This aligns incentives naturally toward anti-competitive behavior that detrimentally impacts both small businesses and consumers.

Facebook's application economy in particular has experienced a series of anti-competitive transfers of wealth. This website focuses on a major one that impacted thousands of businesses, people and families: Zuckerberg’s 2012 decision to privatize Graph APIs while concealing this fact for more than two years and continuing to represent the public availability of these APIs in order to force companies to make extravagant, unrelated purchases in Facebook’s new mobile advertising product.

This website offers a proposal for regulating Facebook's $227 billion economy in order to prevent events like this from happening again. The proposal seeks to establish a basic set of rights and obligations for everyone participating in Facebook's application economy with the goal of minimizing perverse incentives towards anti-competitive behavior, which harms the public interest and threatens the long-term viability of the economy itself. In doing so, this website seeks to engage the public and legal community not only to support the proposal but also to participate in its evolution. We welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Contact us