Facebook's Application Verification programme can be improved, but it's good enough. Money well spent, because it significantly raises the visibility and usage of certified applications, according to participating developers.

The program, in which external developers pay an annual fee to have Facebook review and hopefully certify as "trustworthy" their applications, initially met with a wave of criticism when it was announced almost a year ago.

At the time, critics said the program would unjustly benefit developers with enough money to have their applications reviewed, while harming programmers with fewer financial resources.

Critics also said that Facebook should ensure that all applications built for its site be trustworthy, and that developers shouldn't bear the burden of financing such a review process.

Facebook countered by saying that indeed all external applications on its platform have to comply with a strict set of guidelines and policies, and that the Application Verification program is optional.

The social networking company said the program is aimed at developers who want to distinguish their applications as going beyond the basic requirements with which all 350,000 third party applications on Facebook's platform must comply.

Facebook also envisions the program as encouraging more members to install applications, especially people who are generally reticent about externally built apps.

Now that the dust has settled and the program nears its first anniversary, it appears developers are reaping enough benefits to justify the cost, which is $375 (£255) for a year's certification, except for students and nonprofits, who pay a $175 (£110) fee.

Still, participating developers would like to see Facebook promote and explain the program more to end users, as well as sweeten the pot of goodies that verified applications get. Developers also suggest that Facebook make the review process smoother and quicker.

Today, the benefits include a badge stating the application has been verified, advertising credits and discounts, better placement in the applications directory and permission to send more notifications and requests to users.

Prior to getting his App Broker application certified, Francis Pelland saw minimal weekly growth in users of about 4 percent.

After App Broker got the stamp of approval, its installations have grown about 1200 percent, and increase about 30 percent every week, Pelland said in a phone interview.

"Having a better position in the application directory helps a lot," said Pelland, a law and computer science student from Canada, who has built several Facebook applications.

The process of submitting the application for review was straightforward, he said. It included providing photos, explaining how it works and how it interacts with the Facebook API (application programming interface). Facebook requested some minor changes, including some modifications to App Broker's privacy policy.

Pelland, who paid the £110 student fee, plans to resubmit App Broker when its certification period ends. "I definitely see a benefit. I've gotten more than my money's worth from it," said Pelland, whose application generates revenue from advertising, sponsorships and virtual goods.