If you asked me which other companies Facebook had their eyes on toppling this year, I would’ve said Slack, given the social media giant’s recent ventures into their “Facebook at Work” enterprise. I’m sure Facebook’s quest to become more workplace-acceptable will continue this year, but today, they made a totally different pivot by launching the “Facebook Marketplace,” an obvious attempt to encroach upon Craigslist territory.
Mostly this is surprising because Facebook didn’t think to do something like this before. How many times have you seen your friends advertising used furniture or roommate listings in your news feed? If only Facebook made it easier to do that, right? Users in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand will get first crack at the new Marketplace feature, which will at least make it easier for users to advertise used furniture listings.
Facebook already had some of this functionality on their platform already; starting last year, Facebook Groups could post products to buy and sell. The Marketplace feature is just an extension of that. Just one catch: it’s totally location-based, so hopefully you’re cool with turning location services on for the Facebook app (I’m not, for any number of reasons).
Once the Marketplace update gets rolled out, you’ll see a little shopping cart button at the bottom of the Facebook app on your smartphone. You can tap on that to open the feature and scroll through available listings. You can sort listings according to location, price, and category. Facebook provided a few example categories in their announcement post about Marketplace, which are: Household, Electronics and Apparel. Doesn’t sound like Facebook Marketplace will be including real estate listings–at least, they don’t say anything about that in the announcement–but you’ll be able to sell just about everything else.
Also like Craigslist, FB Marketplace encourages and facilitates price haggling. There’s no option to pay for the item within Facebook, just as Craiglist doesn’t provide an option for that either, so you’ll have to sort that part out on your own.
Since Facebook is generally tied to people’s real names, users might not feel as comfortable with posting less-than-legal sales. Craigslist offers anonymity, whereas Facebook Marketplace advertises your name and location. That could end up posing a problem for Marketplace going forward, because not everybody is going to enjoy that aspect. It’ll be interesting to see if that ends up as another bump in the road for Facebook, given their devotion to “real names” on their service, and whether that will play a role in the Marketplace’s success in comparison to other more anonymous online storefronts.
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