|Fri July 29 2011 14:37:55|
eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy
By: Ina Steiner
eBay updated its social-networking policy that had in effect banned sellers from sharing auctions on sites like Facebook after EcommerceBytes wrote about the policy last week. The blog post garnered many comments questioning the reasoning behind eBay's stance on social networking.
In a nutshell, the policy said sellers would be in violation of shill bidding if their "online friends" bid on their eBay auctions. The toned-down policy removes the mention of "online friends" and states that all selling formats are supported by eBay's social sharing features, though it continues to refer sellers to the site's shill-bidding policy.
The crux of the original policy had stated:
"All selling formats are supported for sharing listings. However, if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you'll need to offer the items at a fixed price: Important: It's still OK to offer auction-style bidding on your items. But your online friends aren't allowed to bid. That’s because eBay's shill bidding policy doesn't allow anyone who has more access to your item information than the general eBay community to place bids."
Sellers were concerned about how eBay would define an "online friend" - many merchants try to grow their online networks and pride themselves on having many Facebook friends, Twitter and FourSquare followers, and LinkedIn colleagues, believing it can add to their credibility and help them drive traffic to their product listings.
One EcommerceBytes reader commented on our original blog post about the policy, "Who defines what a ''friend'' is? Is it a genuine personal friendship? Or if a previous customer ''friends-me'' on my Facebook business page, are they now considered to be a disqualified ''friend''? Even though I've never met the customer, and even though we aren't friends in real life... is this ''facebook-friend'' no longer permitted to bid on my auctions?"
eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff notified me today that eBay updated the language to note that all selling formats are supported for sharing listings. "Buyers and sellers should still reference the shill bidding policy to ensure that bids are authentic and fall within the guidelines," Hoff added.
eBay removed the sentence, "if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you'll need to offer the items at a fixed price" in the updated policy. But it remains up to sellers to make sure their real friends don't bid on their auctions. The policy is found on this page on eBay's website.