Facebook is testing out a new feature that lets users purchase items through the advertising they see on their feeds, the social network announced Thursday.
The company says it expects this new effort to not only help merchants, but also users by making it easier for them to find products they like and purchase them in a simple way. A simpler process, Facebook said, will help make a sale more likely.
Instead of sending users to a merchant's website, Facebook will take care of the purchase within its network. When a user presses the "buy" button, a third -party processor handles payments. It's currently testing the feature for "a few" small and medium-sized US businesses.
"We've built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure," Facebook said in a blog post. "None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and people can select whether or not they'd like to save payment information for future purchases."
This is not the social network's first attempt to gather credit card information. Facebook previously launched a virtual store for physical goods in late 2012. The service eventually flopped, but Facebook found gift cards were the most popular item among users.
There's growing interest in using social media for shopping transactions. A "buy" button also popped up on Twitter in June, and Amazon launched the ability to add items to a cart through tweets in May.
Facebook's attempt seems more closely tied to advertising than other services. It says there's no revenue-sharing requirement. The website is acting as a conduit for the transaction between the consumer and the retailer.
Ian Sherr contributed to this report.