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Etsy teams with Facebook on gift idea generator

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Last-minute shoppers dreading the chaos of the mall may have a new ally in online retailer Etsy.

The store — known for its handmade and vintage items — has teamed up with Facebook to generate gifts ideas for friends in one’s social network. Users can allow Etsy access to their account and in doing so, the profiles of friends. The application then scans the ‘likes’ and interests of companions and matches them to related items sold through Etsy.

So for a friend who likes the band Talking Heads, Etsy suggests she might enjoy a vintage tour T-shirt. For the brother-in-law who’s into philosophy, how about a pillow embroidered with words of wisdom from Jean-Paul Sartre? Of course, the human filter is necessary. Just because Dad likes oranges doesn’t mean he wants a necklace with the fruit as a pendant.

[Updated 2:33 PM: Some Facebook users may love the feature. Others who worry about privacy might see cause for concern. Anyone who has set their privacy settings on Facebook to allow applications to access public information about them essentially grant that access to Etsy. In a time when seemingly anyone who browses the Web is prey to marketing mining, it can be especially disconcerting to hand over personal interests to a retailer. But if privacy settings are strict, or if an individual simply does not list interests, the tool will not work.]

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In preparation for the concerns of a conscientious social networker, during the activation process Etsy also includes disclaimers promising not to share or post a user’s Etsy data on Facebook or contact friends. Additionally, the user can disable the connection at any time.

On Monday, marketing research company ComScore Inc. reported that so far this holiday season, $27.46 billion has been spent online — a 12% increase from last year. Last week, revenue from Internet sales on four individual days each reached higher than $900 million.

Such figures, along with ever-emerging applications such as Google’s Boutiques.com, Kaboodle and Amazon’s Wish List, suggest the world of online individualized shopping is likely here to stay.

Which means the gift you’ve been dreaming of may show up on your doorstep, if you’re willing to hand over a bit of info first.

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-- Caitlin Schneider


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