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Facebook Buys Shop-By-Picture Tech Company

Photo Credit: Tin Shingle

Photo Credit: Tin Shingle

Facebook just bought a shopping tech company, GrokStyle, that was a shopping tool created for the visual search space, and was used in Ikea’s mobile app. The way it worked was, a person could take a picture of a piece of furniture, and the technology would match it to similar pieces of furniture that the person could buy.

Deep dives by the media (social or print/digital brands) into shopping integration with online content continues. As StarOnline pointed out in their article, GrokStyle stated that they were shutting down as a company, but would continue on in team and technology. The statement did not include that the team would be at Facebook.

Screenshot of  GrokStyle’s announcement  of winding down the company as it’s known now.

Screenshot of GrokStyle’s announcement of winding down the company as it’s known now.

According to every article that published a story about this, they credited Facebook’s statement announcing this purchase including Bloomberg News, quoting Facebook’s spokesperson Vanessa Chan: "We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook. Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities."

How Facebook Benefits By The Shopping-By-Picture Feature

Print media began adopting shopping into its print and digital pages, by way of picture scanning, like at Seventeen, and via good old fashioned affiliate links like with GQ, or that time in 2012 with Nordstrom sales. Facebook replaced Craig’s List with its group selling groups, where you could post a picture into a Buy/Sell group, and get immediate response as to if you had a buyer.

Then Facebook released Marketplace, where this buy/sell activity could begin happening instead. Simultaneously, visibility of anything posted at the then old Buy/Sell groups got slow. Instead, Facebook suggested ways to share the post (ie more work for me, and to keep me on the website), which is an attempt to increase activity on their website. I used to use the feature quite a lot. People in Buy/Sell groups moved to Marketplace, and is now is the place where people can have instant garage sales. Brands can also have a shop on Facebook and sell that way. Anyone can start Donation pages. Collections for birthdays, etc.

Facebook is trying to hook the next generation. The children. But the kids these days see Facebook as a Grandma and Parent Hangout, and don't want to hang with their parents. If Facebook can’t lock in teens and kids by way of whichever strategies they are attempting at the moment, Facebook is trying to lock it in with shopping. It must be hard to appeal to all of the people in all of the world all of the time. That’s a big customer base!

In Other News, Facebook Snuggles With Cryptocurrency…$$ To Buy The Stuff? Or Kill It…

Bloomberg also pointed out that Facebook acquired a blockchain technology company earlier this year. “The GrokStyle purchase marks the second reported acquisition by Facebook this year. Earlier this month, the company bought the team behind blockchain technology company Chainspace for an undisclosed sum. The company purchased at least four firms last year, including startups focused on messaging and AI.”

Interestingly, Facebook had blocked ads related to cryptocurrency, stating that the crypto marketplace is too high risk. This done in Facebook’s attempts to step away from being the vehicle people use to guide people down a bad - or wrong - path. In June of 2018, Facebook reportedly lifted that ban on cryptocurrency ads a little bit.

However, since that time (November 2018, actually), Tin Shingle wrote an article about cryptocurrency when we highlighted a blogger, Digiconomist, who covers cryptocurrency in depth. Facebook blocked our ability to Boost that article on their platform in November 2018.

Insert: Thinking Emoji…

First Response to Mark Zuckerberg's Testimoniy: Facebook's Problems Will Persist

Many thoughts are percolating after Mark Zuckerberg's historic first testimony yesterday before a House Committee. I'm preparing Tin Shingle's TuneUp on a Facebook Backup Plan for marketers and business owners, but below are my thoughts as first published to my own friends on Facebook, as I also prepare to scale way back on emotional moments I put into Facebook, and the photos of my family that I plan to remove:

Mark Zuckerberg’s Achilles Heel is that he thinks that data and the computing of that data can solve everything. He has a developer’s mind with a brain that works very much like a database, and that landscape is what he understands. When presented with the question today of if Facebook is a Tech company or a Publishing company, he picked Tech (I’m not even sure what “tech” means because all tech produces something outside of itself).

Facebook is a publishing company. People self-publish. There is no filter. No editor. Aside from a very few admins of groups, and still, selection is then up to their ethics and positions on censorship and filtering for good health.

Then, there are machine editors in the algorithms, and that circles back to data. Facebook is a publishing company. People publish to it largely uncensored. People become cannibals of their own minds by beating themselves up in their own minds, and beating each other up outwardly - but silently - semi-privately - on groups - or people’s pages or business pages. Facebook lets people become social cannibals, destroying each other. Even the good ones get inward and throw stones. Zuckerberg started Facebook as a place to rate people’s “hotness”. It started as a judgement zone. It remains so.

Businesses who are on to disseminate information are siphoned by Facebook and need to pay to play. But even those rules are skewed, and the people who want to see our businesses can’t when they want to. Unless they dig into Facebook settings to require that they see the information first. Same for friends and family.

I don’t see Facebook’s problems getting solved anytime soon because Zuckerberg is too database/computer driven, and not thoughtful enough. He has a responsibility as a publisher. He’s hands off, but he’s the enabler. Sheryl Sandberg is not empathetic enough to understand either. She learns with life experience, sadly, like the lesson she learned about bereavement leave when her husband passed. And Zuckerberg will too when his child gets addicted to Facebook or videos or to headlines the way all of us have. And then Zuckerberg will understand. But not until then. His choices, in the meantime, while well-meaning, are not ones I trust.

Don’t get me started on listening speakers. All I can tell you is - don’t let a talking speaker in your home. From any of them. Amazon. Facebook. Google. It’s an open listening device that can be tapped into, or more of your words sold for advertising and retargeting to market to you. Smart, machine-based marketing, but lazy marketing that trades on privacy currency.