Facebook: time to grow up and realize your full potential

Dear Facebook

You're clearly on a roll right now, but your hunger for a sustainable revenue model is making it hard for me as both User and Developer. Look after me and others like me and we’ll make you rich.

Over the past six months you've upset your user population a number of times. First you expose your user profile data to Microsoft followed by the Beacon episode and most recently the new Terms of Service issues. Because this is Social Media, each of these violations spawns a very public and very viral outcry.

There are new norms emerging on the web, where security of individual's data is becoming a right, not a privilege. The demographics of social media is shifting, it is no longer the preserve of time-rich cash poor Millennials. Growing adoption by Gen-X and Gen-Y means huge revenue opportunities are only around the corner.

As a user, I am simply asking for you not to exploit me, not to steal my data, don't give me small print and when you make changes, make sure I am aware, educated and given sufficient time to cope with the changes.

From a Developer's perspective, the open API is genius and access to 175 million users - already networked with deep and frequent interaction patterns that are so much more valuable than 'eyeballs' - is a dream.

Yet this is spoiled by not creating a true and honest partner ecosystem. The fact that you are able to replace a third party app with one of your own keeps me suspicious as I build my application. Your Verified Applications program is not a good way to grow a channel.

Notice a change in the type of applications that are being developed, such as Faceconnector, MyListo, I Like, Zuora and my own Questa application evidence. The apps of the future will no longer be about poking you, hugging me, throwing food and graffiti walls, they're serious business applications lining up for revenue that is not eyeballs on ad's.

So consider the goldmine that you are sitting on; you have a online global 'state' that unlike SecondLife has real people interacting with each other and real businesses with real cash money to invest. Your job is one of governance to ensure that users can interact and business can transact in safety and with privacy and predictability. If you do this well, then I believe that the gigantic revenues will follow without the PR nightmares.

As a developer (with a long career in Enterprise Applications), I ask of you, Facebook, to provide me with the following things:

1. A growing and sustainable community of users who are engaged and active
2. Users that trust Facebook to maintain their privacy, provide a safe venue for social and business interactions
3. Users that are kept informed and educated so as not to be continually back-lashing against announcements and upgrades
4. That the platform is stable, scalable and not subject to radical changes with short notice that break my applications so driving up my costs
5. That you will not compete with me, steal ideas or shut me down as long as I do not create any malware or rogue applications

Why would you do that? Because I would be prepared to pay rent to have my applications running on your platform. Rent by user activity, a flat monthly fee or rent as a proportion of revenue - whichever way - hard cash. Just help me be successful.