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Facebook Gifts is Live: Millions of Users Targeted

Sites include . Published on November 16th, 2012. Written by Anthony West.

When Facebook acquired start-up, Karma, the intent was telegraphed for all to see—Facebook was getting ready to transform its platform into an ecommerce powerhouse and add yet another revenue stream to its growing set. The acquisition also signaled a change in consumer shopping behavior and thanks to the smooth implementation of Karma, the world will now get to see how the digital concept of ‘Gifting’ will change the way we shop.

Well, Facebook Gifts is now live; unveiled officially for the first time at giant toy store FAO Schwarz in New York, the company is betting that the service will be a hit among its tens of millions of users who have some extra cash to spare this holiday shopping season. New partners are on board too and Facebook has added some pretty prominent names to the list.

The big players are looking to cash in

When Facebook announced the gifting service a few weeks ago, only a handful or so household names were on the list. All that has changed and joining the list are well known retailers such as babyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Dean  & Dulca, ProFlowers, Random House, L’Occitane, Lindt and NARS Cosmetics. Those are just the retailers, radio and music entities have also joined the bandwagon and users will now have the opportunity to send digital media as gifts courtesy of Hulu Plus, Pandora and Rdio.

These early partners will no doubt be joined in the coming months by more and more prominent retailers and my suspicion is that many are just waiting to see what kind of results these early players have on the new gifting platform.

Facebook’s big punt

Analysts were quick to proclaim the diversion of users from Google search engine right to Facebook as a result of this new gifting feature. In the next coming weeks we’ll know what impact there is, if any. For one thing the way Gifts works will play a crucial role in enticing people, to use the service. Facebook has made sure that with each gifting activity, a user has the opportunity to let Facebook friends know that they’ve just bought a gift or someone. This may or may not be a good idea and will largely rest on the type of gift that was bought—I can see people declaring a large purchase over Facebook but not so much the smaller gift ideas.

But there is a somewhat darker side to gifts and that is the fact that Facebook will now be able to access and store users home addresses and credit card data. This fact has hardly been talked about but I can see privacy watchdogs grinding their teeth about it pretty soon. Whilst this new feature will help Facebook weed out some its more ‘opaque’ users, it will certainly isolate a lot of people who feel uncomfortable about sharing such personal information. Considering that Facebook is just a middleman in all of these gifting transactions, the collection of home addresses and credit card data is really surprising.  Like most things Facebook though, users who are truly committed will swallow the bait hook line and sinker.

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