As of today, Mon Jan 31, Facebook is offering deals in Canada through Facebook Places, although I imagine it’s slightly old news in the US and some other countries by now. What you give up in exchange is your “Facebook soul” in your demographic information, which could be singled out if there aren’t many users doing it at the same time, like at a small business, and you end up advertising with a status update that goes out to all your Facebook friends.
Wait, why is that “exchange of info” in the press on not on Facebook’s page describing this feature?
Facebook, that’s like being Sly in Sly and the Family Stone!
Anyway, is that a fair deal?
Hell no! Not for me it isn’t.
For a lot of people, their info is cheap. They give it away to use apps. But that’s for “fun”, as far as I’m concerned. This is selling it cause you get a real money discount. And unlike apps, where there are probably lots of users, and you really do become a statistic, you could be identified here if you’re not among the many taking up a deal.
Imagine a little boutique or convenience store. You can get deals by checking into Facebook at the location via your iPhone or Android device, then showing them the check-in to prove it. The person there sees who you are. They get to see your phone, too. If they own the store and issued the offer, which is common enough for a small business, they can get your info and know it’s you cause it wouldn’t be like Wal-mart with lots of people coming through. Your name and some other unique identifier should not be included in the information shared, but they could probably see your age, birthday, who you’re in a relationship with, your education level, etc. pending what you have filled out, whether you have it privately concealed from others or not. This isn’t other Facebook users trolling your profile. This is an App that sends whatever info you have that Facebook decides it wants access to send along.
How valuable do you think that information is to suddenly try to sell you something else? It’s your birthday? Hey, I’ll give you a deal on this, too! It’s a salesperson’s paradise! It’s also a creep’s paradise!
And you could do this so many times you might as well wear the information on the front and back of your shirt!
That’s just too much for me. I can tell you right now I won’t be using it.
Furthermore, anyone who shows up on my Newsfeed with one of these status updates will automatically get blocked from the Newsfeed. If I don’t have much of a real friendship with them, they get removed, although that’s rare on my Facebook friends list.
It may sound harsh, but I get plenty of ads on Facebook as it is. I don’t need any Facebook friends to be pimping me stuff so they can save a few bucks!
While this is a feature I don’t like at all on Facebook, there is one easy way to avoid it. Just don’t look for these deals or take advantage of them. It’s not like they’re the only deals going around. They’re also a small minority of deals currently. You lived without them before. You can live without them now.