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New Tool From Facebook Extends Its Web Presence
source: New York Times

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, addressing attendees of F8, his company’s conference for developers.

Those applications will get higher visibility on the service and will be able to work more closely with Facebook. Causes, a charitable giving tool, and iLike, a music sharing service, were the first two applications to receive this designation.

Sean Parker, a former Facebook executive who now runs Causes, said Facebook was trying to stimulate the creation of more sophisticated applications. "They are trying to evolve to a place where the right companies get funded and they launch more ambitious features on the platform," he said.

Facebook said it was also setting up another level of certification, called the Facebook Verification program, for applications that meet the basic criteria of being secure and trustworthy. These applications will get added visibility and a graphical "badge."

Facebook also unveiled a new developer's site and pledged to communicate more openly with the entrepreneurs who have tethered their future to Facebook.

The last few months have been marked by plenty of controversy in Facebook's world, with developers complaining that Facebook was not communicating well about changes to the service. Some accused Facebook of copying the most successful features of outside applications and introducing competing versions.

One part of its redesign, for example, duplicates some of the features of Top Friends, a popular program created by San Francisco-based Slide, a leading applications maker.

Keith Rabois, a vice president at Slide, said this was one reason that interest among venture capitalists in backing application makers had cooled. "I think every venture capitalist is looking at Facebook very differently than it did a year ago," he said. "No one wants to build something that just becomes an R.& D. company for Facebook."

Not everyone was negative. Blake Commagere, the developer who created zombie and vampire games for a variety of social networks, said Facebook was simply learning as it goes, like everyone else in an unprecedented Web experiment.

"It's been a learning process for developers and for Facebook," he said. "They are breaking new ground, but these guys are sharp. They are going to continue to improve it."