The company wants to run your social life, online and offline. That includes becoming the place where you buy tickets, book salon appointments and figure out where to take a date.
Richard NievaFormer senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Facebook, the world's largest social network, wants to help you be more, well, social. In an IRL kind of way.
On Wednesday, the company added several new features that let you buy tickets to movies and events like concerts or festivals, get a price quote from a plumber, or let friends make restaurant suggestions -- complete with a map -- right in a Facebook comment. The changes are coming to US users first.
As Facebook sees it, there's no reason anyone in the internet age should miss out on an event, such a concert, barbecue fest or surfing contest, just because they don't know it's happening or because it's too time-consuming to figure out logistics.
"That's unforgivable in 2016," Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook veteran and vice president of ads and business platforms, said during a press briefing in San Francisco.
"It's well within the capability of this device and what it knows about you to deliver on that," he said, holding up a phone.
So the social network is making changes. With Facebook's revamp of pages for brands and businesses, you can now buy tickets to events and movies directly on those pages through partnerships with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and Fandango. You can order food through pages from restaurants that use ordering services like Delivery.com or Slice. You can also get price quotes or request appointments from salons or spas, and have those businesses confirm times with you via Facebook's Messenger chat app. For businesses that use a management service like HomeAdvisor, you can book an appointment instantly.
Facebook is also making it easier to solicit suggestions from friends on Facebook with a new feature called "Recommendations." The next time you post, "What's a good date spot in San Francisco?" you'll be able to turn on the feature and your Facebook friends can offer ideas, which will show up on a map. Then you can refer back to the suggestions later in the new Recommendations section of the Facebook app.
Helping Facebook's 1.65 billion users buy products and discover local businesses is key as the social network moves past its role as a place for people to post family pictures and political rants. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sky-high ambitions with internet drones, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, but he's also got simpler aspirations, like helping you book hair appointments. The new features put the company in direct competition with Yelp and Foursquare.
Bosworth said Facebook won't take a cut of sales made using the new features, though he conceded there are opportunities for making money later on.
The updates build on other recent efforts around events and commerce. Last week, Facebook launched a standalone Events app for iPhones -- it's coming to Android phones later -- with a built-in calendar. The Events tab in the main Facebook app, however, is still there. Bosworth said there are no plans to get rid of it and force people to download the new Events app. (Facebook pulled that stunt two years ago after it launched its Messenger app. Some people were angry, but it paid off. Messenger now has more than a billion users.)
Earlier this month, Facebook unveiled Marketplace, a new section of its mobile app that lets you list goods like furniture, cars and clothes for sale to any Facebook user in your local area.
Bosworth said these new features are about spending as little time as possible planning events and more time doing stuff IRL. "There's just not enough time to do the things you want to do with the people you want to do them with," he said.