The Biggest Internet News of the Month (Disguised as a Gimmick)

The Biggest Internet News of the Month (Disguised as a Gimmick)

I originally had the title, Facebook friends Amazon but I bet between that and Amazon likes Facebook, you’re all about ready to kill every tech blog out there.  I am saying a little different then most of them though, I’m going a step or two lower then the press release.  First though, the basics of the gimmick.  Essentially the new option only allows the following things:

  1. Alerts you of your friends birthdays on Facebook.
  2. Allows you to see your friend’s wishlists (which you could already do, it just wasn’t easy to guess who had one or go looking for it).
  3. Amazon pulls in your information from Facebook for recommendations (movies, music, etc… that you’ve like on your profile).

These are relatively minor things, and much to everyones’ relief the service is “opt-in” not “opt-out”.  Most people saw that much and walked away thinking it was only a trivial news story.  That’s not nearly a deep enough look for someone (me) who believes the current social web will change commerce as we know it (I can think of a half dozen places I’ve said so but perhaps this and this are most relevant).  The bottom line is this, the world’s BEST database about people and social connections is co-mingling with the world’s BEST database about products and personal desires.

I can think of several valuable queries that a facebook or amazon programmer can write without violating the current promised privacy:

  • Facebook could allow an advertiser to advertise rafting trips to any group of five male friends between the age of 20 and 30 who all have adventure books on their Amazon wishlists.
  • Offer a bulk discount to any group of 5 friends who all have the same book on their wishlist.
  • Sort search results based on items other friends have added to their wish list.
  • Sort search results in Amazon Music based on artists that you’re a “fan” of on facebook or that your friends are a fan of.

I can think of a ridiculous number of potential implications with only very minor changes to the current privacy setup:

  • Follow up on your advertisement in Men’s Health by advertising on the facebook pages of all of the men who subscribe to Men’s Health.
  • Suggest a book club based on people’s similar book selections.  Even recommend friends of friends that could join the club.
  • Recommend something on Amazon (without saying why) because someone with an exceptionally similar Facebook profile bought it.
  • When someone buys something on Amazon with gift wrapping and mails it to a friend, increase their relevance in the Facebook news feed.
  • Every product on facebook should have a like button and a little box so I can see which friends have liked it.

Am I missing any good ones?  Particularly in the former category… I’d love to do a follow-up post with ideas from the comment stream.