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Is Facebook's New E-commerce Service Safe?

Is Facebook's New E-commerce Service Safe? Facebook logo.
By Richard Dahl on November 14, 2019 11:14 AM

The newly unveiled e-commerce system Facebook Pay seems so simple and convenient.

Connect your credit card or PayPal to your Facebook account, then agree to link it to Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp and then you are free to send and receive money using those platforms from anywhere in the world.

So, should you sign up for Facebook Pay? Is it safe?

Facebook, of course, says it is. In its announcement, the company says it has been processing donations since 2007 and operating its own fundraising platform since 2015.

But you might want to consider a few other things:

  • In September 2018, a security breach allowed hackers to steal access tokens and take over people's accounts, affecting some 50 million people.
  • The company's recent foray into digital currency, the Libra, did not go well. The proposal drew heat from regulators concerned that it would compete with government currencies and be used for money laundering, and nearly all of Libra's payment partners have pulled out.
  • Facebook is currently under antitrust investigation by 47 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission.

You might also ask yourself whether it is mere coincidence that Facebook is consolidating its huge social media applications with the launch of Facebook Pay at a time when the pressure is mounting for the company to be broken up. After all, the consolidation would seem to make the task facing the attorneys general and the FTC more difficult.

That might be the case, but the venture is also an opportunity for Facebook to move in a new direction and mount a direct challenge to giant mobile payment services Apple Pay and PayPal's Venmo.

Introducing New Logos

It also provides an opportunity for Facebook to expand the reach of its new branding venture. On Nov. 4, the company announced a new all-in-caps logo (FACEBOOK) to distinguish the company from the app (which is retaining its standard blue-and-white motif).

Initially, the service will be available on the Facebook app and Messenger and eventually on Instagram and WhatsApp. Users will be able to use Facebook Pay for charity donations, event tickets, in-game purchases, person-to-person payments, and purchases from pages and businesses on Facebook Marketplace. Facebook says that eventually it plans to broaden Facebook Pay to “more people and places."

Finally, there's another question to ask yourself in deciding whether to use Facebook Pay:

You can't really talk about Facebook without looking at the role it played in the 2016 presidential election by failing to curb the spread of “fake news" on its platform. More importantly, you might want to look at what the company has done since then to reduce the risk of election interference in the future: Essentially, no change.

But with Facebook Pay (and perhaps down the road with Libra), Facebook is planning major changes – if it survives the antitrust pressure, that is.

So do you want to entrust Facebook with your money? Good question.

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