Roommate Wanted: Apply Via Facebook

The Daily is passing around a rumor that Facebook is going to get into the classified ad biz and I’m going with it because it sounds like something they would do.

Though you can still place an ad in a newspaper, most people turn to Craigslist for their buying, selling, hiring and companionship needs. It works because it’s both local and global. I can sit in Los Angeles and read the apartment for rent ads in Manhattan if I want because I’m planning to move there or just to make myself feel better about what I pay here in SoCal. But, if what I really need is a free couch, I can click on the Free section for my city and snag myself a slightly used Ikea divan.

Facebook classifieds won’t work like that. According to The Daily, they’ll work pretty much like any post you put on your newsfeed.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a couch. Much like the way Facebook’s “promoted posts” work you’d pay a nominal (less than $5) fee and a tidy little ad for a used couch would appear in your friends’ feeds.

Currently, “promoted” posts appear slightly segregated in news feeds and have a marginally different look. The new ads could include multiple photos and links to external resources. Users can also elect to “share” a post on their own timeline much like news stories are shared now.

Hmm. . .not sure how that is at all different from just posting a free status update that says I want to sell my couch. What am I missing? And why do I have to pay?
Then there’s this:

In contrast, posts for housing for individuals would be free and allow users to tag friends as a suggestion. Say you were looking for a roommate in the Seattle area who is a neat freak and enjoys sushi. The ad would be shown to friends in the Puget Sound area. Those friends, however, could then pass it along to other across the country even if they aren’t friends with the original poster of the ad.

I’m still not getting it. So roommate ads and job ads can be filtered by location. But it’s still only going out to people on my friends list, right? No, that can’t be right. If I post an ad, I want people who aren’t my friends to see it because I’ve already asked all my friends and they don’t want to move in with me. I need a fresh pool of candidates who don’t know me.

Can’t wrap my brain around it.

I do think that the concept of Facebook as a classified ad server is a good one. It serves the function of an old grocery store bulletin board. It’s a way to post messages in a place where people hang out. But Facebook’s history of controlling who sees which posts has got to go. If I pay to put the message out there then I want it out there for all to see – like on Twitter or Craigslist. Maybe this time, Facebook should forget trying to reinvent the wheel.