Dec 12, 2019 - Technology

Tech's guilt trap

Social media payment. hands out

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wishing your friends a happy birthday on social media now comes with a side of guilt.

Why it matters: "Tech is making it easier to stick a virtual hand out ... for tips and gifts you might not have planned to give," reports USA Today's Edward C. Baig.

  • On Facebook, more birthday humans are soliciting donations for their charities of choice.
  • Doing nothing comes with a pang of guilt: “It seems odd to transform birthday greetings into a transactional event,” one Facebook user told Baig.

This guilt trap carries over into the physical world, Baig notes.

  • New point-of-sale tech has created the moment when a barista swivels an iPad around and gives you the option of tipping 18%, 20% or 25%.
  • Now you have to make a quick decision on whether you want to tip as the barista and the person behind you in line stare you down.

The big picture: Facebook is leaning into the giving aspect of its platform, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • The site has nixed transaction fees on donations and established a $50 million fund to match gifts.
  • In the first year that Facebook added the feature, users raised more than $300 million.

Between the lines: It's getting increasingly easy to spend money on social media platforms.

  • The platforms are getting smarter about targeted ads and adding functions that let you shop without even leaving the app.

The bottom line: There are far worse ways to spend your pocket change than charitable gifts and tips.

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