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A Plea to Facebook: Make a Way to Authorize Non-Spammer 3rd Parties to Send Messages 12 years ago

Facebook, I implore you, beg you, plead with you: we, 3rd party developers, need a way to send messages as our users.

For all the crap you've gotten over the last few months (or even years), there are still many of us who believe in your mission to provide the social layer on which great applications and services can be built. Not having to reinvent the social graph is the greatest gift you could have given us: we're now free to just built services of great value without having to worry about unproductive chicken and the egg problems.

However, there's just one problem: any service built on Facebook that requires or allows users to notify each other on Facebook, rather than in-app, requires that this be done as a wall post. And for good reasons! Messages are sacred, private messages between people, and spam would ruin that. Further, spam is much more likely to be properly dealt with when it is out in the open and public.

However, there are some incredibly worthwhile services being built where users NEED to be notified and will be happy when they are, but putting it on the wall feels weird and MORE spammy than sending a message and in-app notifications are insufficient. A service that posts on your wall looks like it's doing it to publicize its existence, but what if it would actually rather let you interact with the app privately, eschewing any benefits to the app for a better user experience?

I'll give you a great, real life example I'm working with: a social payment application where anyone can pay any of their Facebook friends for anything simply by choosing the friend and sending a payment. The friend is then notified that they have money waiting for them, and if they sign up on the network they receive the money and will receive only a notification on the network itself from then on.

However, that first message HAS to be posted on their public wall. We NEED them to know they have money waiting (have you ever had PayPal neglect to notify you and then lose the money? I have, and it blows) but we don't want even the barebones of money related information being posted publicly, even the fact that they money waiting for them. We're attempting to set this wall post to be viewable only by the person on who's wall it appears, but even that isn't possible.

Here's what I propose: a system for authenticating apps that are legitimately valuable and allowing them a more flexible Facebook Open Graph API. I submit it to the Hacker News community for comments and how they would like this work.

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