Social networking giant offers a bounty of up to $250,000 to develop original applications for the site.

Popular social networking service Facebook continued its plan to expand and diversify its online offerings this week by offering up to $250,000 (£125,000) to users for developing new creative applications for the site.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the offer at TechCrunch40 conference in San Francisco. The awards will come out of a total account of $10 million financed by Facebook's backers, Accel Capital and the Founder's Foundation.

Facebook currently has over 4,000 small applications that provide services such as simple gaming, user gift exchange and enhanced functionality.

The site claims to have 41 million current users, which suggests that 1% of internet traffic passes through the site.

The awards are to be determined via a panel which includes Zuckerberg, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Accel's Jim Breyer.

Zuckerberg encouraged anyone with an idea to apply, saying, "Any application developer can submit their application and a little business proposal to us."

The only limitation to the funds is the startups cannot have accepted previous venture capital.

While the wild financial and social success of Facebook has made 23 year old Mark Zuckerberg one of the most well known faces on the internet, the same success has led to claims surfacing that he stole the idea from his Harvard classmates.  There is current pending litigation by Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss who claim Zuckerberg stole the idea from their website after befriending them.  DailyTech recently reported on some good news for Zuckerberg--the claim has stalled in court as a Judge demanded that the pair present more proof of their claims before the case could proceed.

Despite these recent allegations, Facebook remains a wildly popular place for social congregation on the web.  Many will be excited at the opportunity to be able to make some real money by developing their ideas of how to improve their favorite networking website.  For some this may be their first real commercial break, much as Facebook was Zuckerberg's big break when he was fresh out of Harvard.  Likewise some of these developers may go on to bright futures as Internet designers.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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