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Would You Trust Facebook With Your Credit Card?

I recently wrote a guest post at New Media Angels about the future of Facebook. It was sparked by a discussion as to whether Facebook was doomed and what it ought to do to avoid such a fate. I outlined a few steps that I thought would preserve Facebook’s future and one of them was allowing you to buy things via your Facebook account. Since then people have asked a few questions, but the number one question has been this: “why on Earth do you think I’d give Facebook my credit card?”

It’s a fair question, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to respond.

My thinking behind the Facecoin idea was simple. Right now Facebook has one revenue stream: ads. That’s not enough to ensure survival in my book. So they need to diversify. Get a few fingers in a few pies. And micropayments is an emerging pie. The only real contender is Bitcoin. Bitcoin, however, is not a well-known name. Facebook is. And if you’re faced with a name you know and a name you don’t, a lot of people will pick the former without even asking about the latter.

But, of course, Facebook isn’t a name you can trust. That’s why step one of my plan was to rebuild trust. I’m not convinced their reputation is irreparably damaged. And once they’ve changed their image, I think people wouldn’t balk at handing over their details. Especially younger users, who might not have been online when Facebook was so distrusted. After all, we trust PayPal with our credit card. Why not someone else?

Let me put it this way: imagine a new social network, Safebook is unveiled tomorrow. Safebook does everything Facebook does, down to the finest detail. But it makes no claims to your photos or data. It makes it easy to manage your privacy. In fact, it encourages privacy. Privacy might even be a default. And Safebook also lets you pay for things, just like PayPal. Why wouldn’t you dump Facebook?

Now imagine if Facebook turned into Safebook over the next year. Now tell me you wouldn’t hand over your card details.

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