Facebook's steady march towards what it thinks of as a sustainable business model continues with the announcement that it is experimenting with 'want' and 'collect' buttons for Facebook pages.
Only a few retailers have the feature live on their Facebook pages at the moment, and frankly I can't find them. Gini Dietrich of Spinsucks suggests it's a frontal assault on Pinterest which is having better success at pushing eyeballs from looks to purchase, something which gladdens retailers of course.
Danny Rubin talks about the move this way:
With 'Want' and 'Collect,' Facebook is hoping to put every company on the planet in our News Feed. Then, we'll use their products to create 'wishlists' so people can buy us stuff.
No matter how much you love Facebook —and I'm on it every morning before work — the very idea behind 'want' and 'collect' buttons must be seen as so unpleasant it's worth parsing.
'Want and 'collect' are evidence in two short words of what is wrong with the direction of many social networks today. As Facebook seeks to 'monetize' (what a horrid word) every interaction on its platforms, as it feeds the commercialisation of relationships and connection, it is to my mind moving — nay leaping — away from its core mission. At least that seems to be the case with Facebook's mission as articulated by Mark Zuckerberg in what might be seen — in the shadow of 'want and 'collect' — as a hypocritical letter to shareholders last winter:
Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected . . .
At Facebook, we’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television — by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together.
Explain to me how being "inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information" is fulfilled through collecting and wanting. Facebook isn't to my knowledge developing game changing applications to make social networks more private and safe, nor more efficient, creative and visual. Its time appears to be invested in finding ways to feed narcissism and encourage consumption. And the idea that life is made better by the more we own or can parade in front of our friends is, well, truly sad, deleterious to our social well-being and oh so boring.
In his post linked above, Rubin suggests some alternative buttons he would like to see Facebook develop — 'pumped' and '4 stars' look good. As dumb as some of his others are, I would take any of them over the commercial nonsense that is 'want' and 'collect'. Facebook . . . there is still time to repent. Please do.