Facebook’s applications platform/API has made it a much more versatile world of activity. Many, or most, are basically useless, but the idea of third-party extensibility in general has allowed Facebook’s uses to multiply (and has given developers an easy development and deployment framework).
But Facebook groups (or other features) could do with the same versatility being available. Applications could make groups a powerful framework for tasks like:
- charting fundraising by or for the group
- publishing regular event times
- better-than-forum planning and discussion tools
- polls, voting or surveys
- game tournaments
- friend wheels to show how group members are connected
- Countdowns, countups and counters (e.g. how many of my yeargroup have got married)
- hundreds of thousands of other things only other Facebook users could come up with.
There’s a good chance Zuckerberg and his team have thought of this already, but the privacy arrangements would have to be quite complicated: at the moment individual users consent to individual applications having access to their personal information. Just because a user is a member of a group with an app, that doesn’t mean they consent to the app knowing about them. Will users have to consent to a group’s apps when they join it, or each time the group admin adds another app? That’s potentially a lot of bureaucracy.
Basically, this could get messy. But the future tells of bright and endless possibilities.