Thursday, November 18, 2010

Facebook has just made me 90% less "Active" on Facebook

My friends and family know I'm not much of a Facebook addict. I have posted before - and I try to keep up with invites, but it's a cultural divide that I have yet to overcome. I'm just not into broadcasting my personal life across the internet. But millions of people are, and so I typically use my account for development purposes.

Had I realized that Facebook offered Test Accounts for developers and QA staff to work the bugs out of their software - http://developers.facebook.com/docs/test_users
I would not have convinced my entire family that I was applying to UC Berkeley when in reality I was simply writing some software for MyEDU.

Creating test accounts is as simple as using the GraphAPI (read: not so simple given the poor documentation) and the accounts are restricted from interacting with real Facebook profiles. However the accounts won't get flagged for spamming or pollute peoples walls with useless garbage - a real concern that developers face.

The rules are pretty simple:
•Test users can interact with other test users only and not with real users on site.
•They cannot interact with public content on site like Pages etc.
•They can be accessed and used by any developer of the associated application.
•They only have test privileges on the associated application. This implies that they can use the app in live mode or sandbox mode but cannot edit any technical settings or access insights for that application.
•A test user is always a test user and cannot be converted to a normal user account.

Although I'll be expanding my public profile as a web developer for the sake of my career, I must say the private nature of test accounts has me intrigued into what type of "off the Facebook grid" communities could develop from such an exclusive network.

I think I'll prototype an application to manage this process from an end user's perspective - so they don't have to worry about the hidden roadblocks of the Graph API.

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