Earlier this month, Pizza Hut became the first company not just to let people order pizza online, but to do so without having to leave Facebook. Numerous bloggers have complained snarkily that the application offers nothing new -- it's basically just the online delivery site redesigned for Facebook, only now it can spam your friends when you order a pizza.
Pizza Hut responded quickly to initial criticism, saying:
The application has been updated so that you will no longer receive a notification when your friends log on to the Pizza Hut Facebook application. You will receive a notification when your friends place an order from Pizza Hut, but this is a notification that users can opt out of in the application settings.Pizza Hut's issues here echo Facebook's own earlier scandal over its Beacon initiative, when the social networking site took heat for notifying users about what their Facebook friends were buying -- even on non-Facebook sites. Founder Mark Zuckerberg made a public apology and allowed users to opt out of broadcasting such information.
But it's likely that a majority of users don't bother to turn such features off, so friends of those who use the Pizza Hut app will continue to receive alerts about who's just ordered a large pie with pepperoni. Pizza Hut "fans" on Facebook will also get info through the site about the latest Pizza Hut news, deals and promotions -- plus the chance to win a $50 Pizza Hut gift card.
The whole idea strikes me as of dubious value for the food industry. Book and movie favorites with links to Amazon make sense, because Facebook users like to show off what they're watching and reading. But does anyone really feel the need to let their friends know what kind of pizza they've just ordered? And it is really that much more convenient than opening a new tab and using the Pizza Hut site directly?
Then again, I'm an old fogey by Facebook standards. I am part of the under-35 demographic, but I grew up in the dark ages of the 1990s, when we actually emailed each other instead of just relying on text messages.