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A random social media development that is deceptively important: Buying airline tickets on Facebook

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Delta Airlines has just announced that customers will soon be able to purchase tickets through a “ticket window” on its Facebook page.  Despite the routine nature of this announcement, this is actually quite important, as it marks yet another milestone in the transformation of the world’s largest social media site.  Facebook was originally a communication tool.  Then it was a marketing tool.  Then it was a gaming site.  Then it was a data mining tool.  Now, it has becoming an e-commerce platform.  This may cause you to wonder if Facebook’s goal is actually to create a private Internet, with all of the functionality of the Internet but with everything you might need under a single roof.   And yes, that appears to be their goal.  Google has noticed this too: in buying virtual currency site Jambool, Google hopes to create a worthy competitor to Facebook credits, and create a seamless social e-commerce experience of its own.

But what are the legal ramifications of these developments? If you are going to be doing more than merely advertising on social media, but will instead be engaging in some kind of actual commerce through a platform that you neither own nor control, perhaps using “currency” that merely represents real dollars, you need to understand how your terms of sale interact with the terms of use and privacy policies on the site.  You need to determine whether or not the data collected as part of the social media experience is going to undermine, in any way, your relationship with the customer.  What kind of things can go wrong, and who will be blamed if they do?  This is why it is always so important to track the ways in which your social media presence is changing, and to ensure that your online policies cover your new behavior.  Like a shark who dies if he stops swimming, remaining static in this vibrant and rapidly evolving social media space is a path to irrelevance.  But failing to note the real life impact of these changes on your legal position is just as unwise.