Siliconcowboy's Blog

Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility

Why Did Facebook Ditch its Popular Pages App?

Late last week, Facebook quietly rolled out its Popular Pages app.

Two days later, as discovered by Facebook diva Mari Smith, the app was gone…without so much as a peep by way of explanation.

Quite a few people expressed interest in the app, because it provided a quick and easy way to not only find popular pages – e.g., highly “liked” brands – but it also listed out all your friends who had like those pages as well.  So for example, one of the most popular pages was “Lady Gaga” and all of your friends who liked her page could easily be seen through the app.

The page could be seen as enormously useful to brands large and small, as well as individual Facebook users.

Which may perhaps give some clue as to why it was pulled.

The early positive feedback from around the web may have prompted Facebook to pull the app and hold it as an advertising mechanism for brands.  If they want their place on the list to be higher, for example, they might be willing to part with a little more green.

This is just speculation, of course, but it makes sense. Facebook is notoriously savvy to SEO and analytics, and it would be easy to drive promoted brands onto the Popular Pages list.

Another possibility is that the Popular Pages listing was being viewed by children as well as adults. Facebook has special filters and policies for children. Most notably, it does not allow children under the age of 13 to participate, and it does not allow adult strangers to be viewable on the pages of minors under 16.  And while there’s evidence that children are getting around these policies, delivering the Popular Pages app to children would not only be a violation of the social media platform’s own policy, it would also represent a serious challenge to the company’s security system…and its advertisers.

Even if it was not viewable to children, the filter that keeps it from being viewed by children would have to be a consternation to brands. After all, pop stars want to bee seen by kids, and so do a lot of other people.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and what Facebook has to say about it.

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