Facebook recommends Christmas gifts for users and friends

The latest innovation allows e-commerce sites to offer lists of gifts based on likes and discussions.
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“There are now quite a lot of e-commerce sites linking to Facebook,” explained Ryan Kaye, client services director at CTI Digital. “They have widgets where, if you are logged into the social network, they display a list of personalised recommendations based upon your likes and discussions on the site.

“There is an American site that I visited recently that offered a Christmas present recommendation for each member of my friends list.”

Some say the concept is taking the fun out of Christmas shopping. Jonathan Bowers, communications director at internet hosting company UKFast, said: “On a very human level, online shopping is fantastic for convenience but presents already picked out for your friends – where’s the fun in that?

"On a serious note, however, we have now become so willing to share our personal information so freely on these sites to allow this to happen but we rarely consider the risks of having all of this information out there.

"Now that Facebook is openly using this information alongside e-commerce sites, I think it has been a real wakeup call to open people’s eyes to what information they share."

However it seems that the popularity of Facebook is somewhat waning. According to Hitwise, usage has levelled off significantly in the UK, with user numbers growing by five million between July 2010 and 2011, compared to an increase around 20 million users the previous year.

Tom Cheesewright, co-founder and CMO of CANDDi, explained: “I am one of the few people that believe they have seen the beginning of the end for Facebook. The site now has a seven-page privacy policy, Flickr only has a paragraph.

"It seems that people are tired of it trying to be all things to all people and I am gradually seeing people uploading less and less information onto the site."

However Ben Aronson, creative director at Juice Digital, believes that this type of data aggregation is the natural future for all social networks. He said: “Facebook is already intuitive – if you stop interacting with a brand it will drop out of your feed – but the next step is total data aggregation. We will have personalised search results and sites that offer us what we want, when we want it and are constantly updated."

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