Facebook has launched a new feature in the US that allows user to order food online and it sounds simply awful. Remember when Facebook was just a utility that helped you find your friends’ email addresses? We were such dorks back then.
Ordering food for takeout or delivery is supposed to be simple. That’s the point. But somehow it’s gotten complicated. First you need to decide what to eat, then you have to sift through a bunch of options and services.
Ordering food online in the US is not that complicated. In fact, it’s one of the most streamlined experience the gig economy has given us thanks to Grubhub’s habit of buying up every popular food ordering services in existence, including Seamless, MenuPages and most recently, Foodler.
Facebook isn’t exactly firing up its own version of Grubhub, though. The social network appears to be picking up the scraps Grubhub left behind in some weird convergence of new revenue streams, novel advertising opportunities and good old fashioned data collection.
That sounds truly horrible. The only thing that sounds worse than eating at Denny’s is ordering Denny’s for delivery from inside of the Facebook app and somehow depositing another penny in Mark Zuckerberg’s pocket.
This isn’t exactly what’s bothersome about Facebook blindly charging into another market with another poorly conceived service. It’s just a reminder that Facebook, the once-useful thing you did back in college, has become the next Yahoo and is drowning its most useful features in a sea of profit-hungry bullshit.
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the past decade in Facebook history. Ten years ago, Mark Zuckerberg took the state at the company’s first F8 conference and announced developer access to the Facebook social graph, meaning anyone could build apps that would exist entirely within the Facebook ecosystem.
This is the move that led to Farmville and countless other garbage experiences enabled by Facebook becoming a platform instead of a service in and of itself. Later, in 2013, the social network tried to double down on this basic concept with Facebook Home, a launcher for Android phones that integrated Facebook features into the operating system. This effectively meant that any time you were using your phone, you were also on Facebook.
Neither of this initiatives were ultimately successful, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook from rebuilding the functionality of services that used the social network’s platform in the form of new Facebook features. This food ordering is just the latest example of this. For instance, ChowNow offered the ability to order from restaurants directly from those business’s Facebook page years ago, but the new feature simply aggregates these services into one Facebook-branded experience.
It’s unclear if or how Facebook is sharing revenue with companies like ChowNow going forward. Nevertheless, Facebook is constantly coming up with new attempts to get people to spend more time on Facebook, clogging up what was once a simple, useful service.