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Facebook in new 'experiment' drama: Will users buy it?

Free-content ad network morphs into online market

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Facebook is dipping a toe into the e-commerce market to test an Amazon-style "Buy now" button on the adverts it serves.

The social network is initially rolling out the feature to a select number of small and medium-sized businesses in the US. The button will appear on the website and in its mobile app.

It's not only about building a new sales stream for the free-content ad network, but also represents another stickability strategy at the Menlo Park-based firm.

Facebook is keen to build an internet within the internet, or - more accurately - the Google within Google*.

Concocting such services might just encourage more of the roughly 1.25 billion Facebookers around the world to stay on the site and app for longer.

As the company explained in a brief blog post:

With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the 'Buy' call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook.

Naturally, Facebook was keen to point that it had built the "Buy" button "with privacy in mind". It promised that the payment system would be "safe and secure."

Other advertisers won't gain access to Facebook users' credit or debit card information, the company said. It is also offering to retain those payment details in its vast content farm. You lucky things. ®

* Which, as it's Friday, reminds your correspondent of this classic Leslie Nielsen joke taken from Police Squad:

Gangland boss: “Who are you, and how did you get in here?”

Frank Drebin: “I’m the locksmith. And ... I’m the locksmith.”

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