ADOTAS – A recording engineer I know is about to buy a house in Georgia and has advised me never to try and purchase property if I value my sanity. One thing that’s been holding up his mortgage approval is messed-up credit from buying a bass at Guitar Center years ago on its buy-now-pay-later program.
He’s not the first musician I’ve known that got lured into that tiger trap — musical gear is expensive, and the appeal of pay-later combined with the desire for good equipment can overwhelm one’s logical processes. And it’s not like musicians have a whole lot of common sense to begin with, or the ability to evaluate long-term consequences.
Social gamers also seem to lack common sense — I’m convinced FarmVille must rot the mind after reading about a Bulgarian city council member who lost his job because of his addition to the social game and a British kid who racked up a $1,400 credit card bill buying virtual items.
The pull of instant gratification in social gaming seems to be impossibly strong, hence why Facebook is only going to encourage bad behavior with a new introductory credit program for virtual goods.
As Inside Facebook explains, the social network is trying out a system in which users who have not used Facebook Credits before can spend them and purchase them at a later date through Paypal or a credit card. At this point there doesn’t seem to be a credit limit or a system of interest (oh, there will be). Inside Facebook suggests this might also be a way to encourage users to attach their PayPal or credit card information to Facebook in order to facilitate one-click buying.
Simply put, Facebook is trying to take advantage of user stupidity and poor impulse. My father the economist would say Zuck and crew have every right to do that (he doesn’t fault Goldman Sachs on its involvement in the Greek economy crash), but that’s not the point — it’s a matter of ethics.
It’s bad enough Facebook takes people’s real cash for virtual goods — they shouldn’t introduce credit. It crosses the line from sketchy to disgustingly greedy — people can buy virtual goods on their credit cards, which is dumb as is.
Facebook’s ongoing bad rap stems from its continuous overweighting of revenue versus concern for users. Virtual goods credit will only give it a worse name.
But the push for increased private information — PayPal and credit card information — is just ridiculous. There’s really no reason for Facebook to have that information, and the network certainly hasn’t earned the public trust to garner it.