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The Facebook-focused news site says it received a copy of an email that was sent to one of the early partners on the program. (You can see the email below.) I asked Facebook if it could comment on the story. As expected, I was told, “As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on speculation.”
It certainly wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Facebook announced a deals service. Other startups that let users check-in to locations, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, are only beginning to reveal their revenue plans, but everyone I know to assumes that they’ll make money by giving businesses a chance to offer deals to loyal customers.
What is unusual is how Facebook is reportedly structuring these deals. Instead of rewarding customers for visiting a store multiple times, businesses are supposed to give them deals if they tag a certain number of other people at the same location. So the idea is to encourage people to bring friends to a location, rather than to become a repeat visitor. (Of course, it’s also possible that there will be different kinds of deals and that AllFacebook only found out about one.)
Plus, this is a way to encourage users to bring more friends into the Places service. This mirrors Facebook’s strategy for growing other services — the company says its Photo feature spread so quickly because users didn’t have to ask permission before tagging friends in pictures, which is why Facebook is taking a similar approach to Places and Groups. And yes, that means that if the deal service goes live, you can probably expect to be tagged in many more locations — especially if you’ve got annoying friends.
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