The dust is yet to settle following Facebook's teaming up with Skype to launch the video chat, a feature Facebook's founder CEO Mark Zuckerberg termed as something awesome.
Far from being awesome Facebook's feature, hosted at facebook.com/videocalling, acquired the URL through extremely undignified means, alleges a company called Samuday Web Technologies. According to Samuday's CEO, the video chat app developed by his company and hosted under facebook.com/videocalling was kicked out without providing an adequate reason, to launch Facebook's own videocalling service.
Samuday's browser based Video Calling Application powered by the real-time communication platform uniRow allowed group (up to four people) video chat with Facebook and non-Facebook contacts. According to Nimit Kumar, CEO of Samuday, the company took extra care in monitoring users, a measure they thought important in preventing the application from being a centre for perversion.
According to the statistics provided by Samuday, the application had 22k users, around 8.5K of them active, and 4.5K likes in about 3 months since its launch in December 2010. Nimit Kumar claims the company had spent $ 4000 for running ads on Facebook to promote the application which managed to acquire 120 ratings with an average of 4.7 out of 5.
The question to ask is what happened around April 7th (exactly 3 months before the launch of Facebook-Skype Video Calling). It is clear that when the plan for rolling out their application was decided, Facebook wanted to use the phrase Video Calling and therefore wanted the URL. Instead of communicating this to the page (and application) owners, it went ahead and disabled the application. This is grossly undemocratic and probably illegal (we are looking into this aspect). We tried our best to get the application reinstated, but did not succeed, Nimit Kumar wrote on his blog.
According to a Gigaom report a Facebook spokesperson responded Wednesday morning through an email with the following statement: The app was disabled by an automated system for a policy violation that was not related to the URL of the app. The developer's appeal was manually reviewed; the violation was confirmed, and the appeal was denied. Two months after the initial disabling of the app, Facebook acquired the URL.
Samuday has expressed their disinterest in re-launching the application on Facebook, (under a different URL, of course), but will instead roll out a Google Chrome extension that will allow anyone on Facebook to have group video calls with their friends.
Samuday described the experience as bizarre when they learned that their application was no longer available on Facebook. Neither did we receive any notification, nor did Facebook give any indication of violation of any policy. We obviously thought there could be some mistake and hence we submitted an appeal.
The appeal got a canned response, from Facebook with no details on why the application was deleted, says Samuday. They mentioned the following: If you would like to re-launch your application, please feel free to do so after you are certain that it meets our terms and policies and provides a positive, spam-free user experience on Platform by monitoring user reports.
Applications cannot be marked spam overnight. If users were marking the application as Spam, why doesn't Facebook notify the application owners? More importantly why doesn't Application Insights show these details? Samuday asks.