October 19, 2016 - 18:03 AMT
Facebook lets users poll friends for local recommendations

Facebook is revamping portions of its mobile app and website to make it easier to get recommendations from friends and interact directly with businesses, without leaving the social network, The Verge reports.

The central changes can be found in the company's Pages and Events tools, which both help Facebook act as a social nexus for the site's users to stay in the know about what's going on in their community and what their friends are into. Starting Wednesday, October 19, Facebook will let you poll your friends for recommendations on places to see, restaurants to try, and businesses that can be trusted. Those recommendations then get placed on a map, with links to those businesses individual pages and options to even purchase items direct from the companies themselves.

The scenario Facebook is trying to fix is a simple one. "There’s a concert in town from a band you love and you don’t know about it," says Andrew Bozworth, Facebook's vice president of engineering for Ads and Pages. He's describing what he considers a central problem with modern smartphones, which know so much about our habits and our preferences and yet fail to take advantage of that knowledge in critical ways. "It's well within the capabilities of this device and what it knows about you," he adds. Ideally, Facebook would never let you miss a show from your favorite artist.

To solve this problem, Facebook is turning to perhaps its most valuable resource: your friends list. By letting users tap into social recommendations, the company hopes its service can begin to change entrenched internet behavior. People often rely on Amazon reviews when trying to discover which product to buy. They also rely on Google's search prowess to point them in the right direction for more general knowledge questions. Facebook, on the other hand, thinks it can leverage the power of the people whose opinions you value, to urge you to ask them for help instead of relying on strangers or algorithmic tools.

For example, you'd ask your friends for a good takeout place to grab food in San Francisco, and you'd then get recommendations on a map. From there, Facebook would allow you to place an order from within its mobile app. To facilitate this, the company is now allowing businesses to sell products and services through Facebook. So you can book an appointment with a small business, place an order with a restaurant, or purchase concert tickets through Eventbrite, all without leaving the Facebook app.