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Facebook starts random application shutdown

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Updated Facebook has started shutting down iPhone applications, taking a sudden interest in trademark infringement in naming and logos - some of the time, anyway.

The applications concerned all interact with Facebook, providing an enhanced interface, batch-uploading of graphics and so forth. The site has started cutting off applications it believes infringe its trademarks by using the company's name or logo, as CNET reports, but not in any kind of coherent way.

"Emoti for Facebook" developer Chris Diskin received an email from Apple on Monday, explaining that Facebook had complained that the application was breaching their trademarks and asked for the developer to get in touch. However, when he did contact Facebook his email was ignored and the application and cut off.

Applications which use the Facebook APIs present the developer's credentials when connecting, so it's possible for Facebook to cut off a specific developer while leaving other applications free to interact. Once disconnected the applications give an error when being used, as Emoti for Facebook now does.

There seem to be better candidates for Facebook's wrath. "Focus for Facebook", for example, not only uses the social networking company's name, but even replicates the "f" logo. Thus it would seem a likely target, but at the time of writing it's still working fine.

iLoader, an application which is only guilty of of using the letter "f" in it's icon, has been slapped down. The developer tells CNET he has no idea why: "I was not told what the issue is and got no reply from my call or email."

Icons featuring the Facebook F

One of these logos has upset Facebook

Such inconsistency is worthy of Cupertino itself, which likes to keep developers guessing about what's allowed and what isn't. Facebook hasn't got back to us for comment on the matter, but did tell CNET the following:

"We ensure that applications that access Facebook user data adhere to Facebook Platform policies ... Those applications that do not comply are subject to enforcement."

Chris Diskin has renamed and resubmitted his application as "Emoti" in the hope that Facebook won't object, while iLoader is currently seeking approval with an 'i' instead of an 'f'. We assume Focus for Facebook and it's ilk are living on borrowed time or are flying below Facebook's radar. ®

Update: Facebook has been in touch and tells us the other applications are indeed on borrowed time, everything "in clear violation" will get it in the neck eventually so if you're using anything with an "F" in the name you should expect problems real soon now.

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