Facebook, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, has definitely gained momentum in the world of online social networking. Boasting over 97 million users, just trailing the over 110 million user base which its top competitor MySpace has, Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds. The main strength behind their ability to grow so rapidly and effectively, was the ability of the Facebook team to integrate advertising and marketing into their network, as well as to offer business solutions for companies and corporations, without sacrificing the integrity of their website. Facebook to this day, has an extremely tight grip upon the ability of its members to publish content within their profiles, ensuring that “black hat” advertisers cannot nest harmful HTML code within profiles that could potentially bog down the site, as well as discourage users from using the site due to profile hacking. This has allowed them to greatly minimize the amount of hacked profiles, as well as garbage postings placed solely for revenue generation, within their social network, which can be found in great abundance within their competitors web-sites.

The most valuable feature, introduced in May of 2007, was the Facebook Platform. The Facebook Platform provided a development framework for third-party developers to develop applications or “widgets” for the social network. Everything from photo sharing, comment and picture posting, horoscopes, Texas Hold’em, and friend-interaction applications; the list of widgets has grown to number in the thousands! Unfortunately, by popular opinion, the ratio of “useful” applications and “garbage” or “nearly-useless” applications is a small number in deed. However, a positive aspect of this “widget” community has been the “charity awareness” applications that have been created within Facebook.

Charities themselves are beginning to get involved within Facebook, creating their own pages which users can become fans of, and allowing them to gain more visibility to the public through the Facebook user community. However, before they started upon this initiative, it was solely the applications within Facebook which were promoting charities within the Facebook social network. Unfortunately, there have been a few applications created that were falsely stating intentions of donating proceeds to a charity in order to gain more downloads. Up to this point, this number has been extremely small, and the number of applications actually contributing towards charity awareness and charity donation have greatly out-numbered these “faux” charity Facebook applications.

One of the latest charity awareness/donation applications to hit the scene is “Good Samaritan”. Good Samaritan is a combination application, offering discount internet offers to its users, as well as free surveys, in order to generate advertising revenue for its founding company. However, the application appropriately earns its name by donating twenty-five percent of its earnings to the charities that are participating within the application. However, this donation activity is not a blind or blanket process. Instead, Good Samaritan allows its users to select which charity will receive these proceeds before they even select the product, service, or survey that they wish to pursue through the application.

User control and interaction was key to the design of the application. Therefore, it was also decided that Good Samaritan should track the dollar amounts which each user “earns” as a donation for these charities. Thus, each user will be able to know, each and every time that they log into Good Samaritan, exactly how much money was donated to the user’s charities of choice during their use of the application. Plus, as charity success and charity awareness is an extremely viral concept, the actual application entry on the user’s Facebook profile page displays the amount that was donated to charities through their use of the application, plus the amount which was donated to charities through the use of users who downloaded Good Samaritan due to an invitation from the first user, or by downloading the application through that first user’s profile page. This will hopefully assist with promoting user interaction with regards to involving other Facebook users with Good Samaritan, and therefore assisting participating charities even greater. That, combined with a “Top Earners” (listing top earners for charities) and “Charity Awareness” page (allowing users to find out more about participating charities, as well as invite other charities to participate within Good Samaritan), definitely give Good Samaritan a multi-dimensional value to Facebook users.

By Robert Smith

John Smith: John, a former software engineer, shares his insights on software development, programming languages, and coding best practices.