Facebook cracks down on sellers of junky products
- Facebook is getting tougher with businesses that advertise products that are unsatisfactory or aren't delivered on time, according to The Wall Street Journal. The social media giant's new feature lets people leave reactions about their shopping experience after seeing an ad and making a purchase through the platform's mobile app or website.
- The company will warn businesses that receive many negative responses to address the grievances or face restrictions on their ads — or an eventual ban from the platform. The social network started warning hundreds of e-commerce sites that received a high volume of negative feedback from shoppers who bought products after clicking on an ad.
- Facebook is providing advice to businesses about how to respond to negative feedback, telling them to provide more realistic information about shipping times or more transparent disclosures on return policies. The company will immediately ban businesses that are determined to be obvious scammers.
It's a bit ironic that Facebook — a social media company that's recently lost user trust after being in the spotlight for helping Cambridge Analytica's misuse of data — wants to become a reliable source of reviews about e-commerce companies that sell products on its platform. Crowdsourced reviews have helped to build user trust in e-commerce platforms like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba, but it's not clear why consumers should now put their trust back into Facebook. Business accounts still can turn off all customer reviews, limiting the ability of shoppers to share warnings about poor shopping experiences.
Facebook needs to become a trusted platform for consumers to rely on it for e-commerce and if it is to gather more in-depth information about users that can improve ad targeting features for marketers. The strategy will become more important as Amazon, known for its relentless efforts to squeeze inefficiencies out of marketing channels, seeks to grow its ad business. Amazon has verified information about its customers and a trusted e-commerce platform that provides a wealth of data about shopping habits, brand preferences and product search histories. Facebook doesn't want to alienate paying advertisers, of course, but to build a trusted e-commerce platform as it appears to be working toward, the company will need to tread carefully around which sellers to remove from the platform and be more willing to let shoppers share feedback about their experiences.
This crackdown on sellers of shoddy products follows Facebook's announcement to sell ads on its Marketplace section that shows classified ads. The social network also began testing a service that gives people who post classified ads the ability to "boost" views of their listings by paying to have their Marketplace ads appear in the News Feed section. This week's announcement about banning unscrupulous sellers also comes after a report about online storefronts that used Facebook ads to flip products listed on other online marketplaces like Alibaba's AliExpress. The storefronts profit by marking up the products that are available on other e-commerce websites for a lower price. Shoppers then complained about misleading ads and low-quality goods shipped weeks later from China.