Today at its F8 developers' conference, Facebook will announce a plan to give favored widgets more abilities to promote themselves on the site. The first two apps to get "preferred" status will be Causes and iLike. What does being a "preferred" widgetmaker mean? A source tells us that in the short term, Facebook will simply promote preferred apps in users' News Feeds more often, increasing their chances of spreading from friend to friend. "Basically, it is a subsidy program for their favorite darlings," says our source. Causes is an app backed by former Facebook president Sean Parker; iLike is a startup backed by Marc Bodnick of Elevation Partners, who is also a private Facebook investor and the brother-in-law of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Our source also tells us that after top tier preferred apps, there will be a middle tier of "certified/approved/vetted" applications as well.
Facebook has been punishing widgetmakers for some time now on its platform, banning them here and there, for the most opaque of reasons. Widgetmakers should probably glad to hear the favoritism is at least codified now, and comes in the form of a carrot, not just a stick. But they aren't that happy. There is resentment among some widgetmakers over the politicking gaining preference on Facebook's platform will now likely require: "[We are] in the business of satisfying users every day, not lobbying for subsidies." No wonder Facebook put Elliot Schrage, a thoroughly political former think-tanker, in charge of the platform.