"Facebook rolled out Offers in beta to a handful of clients in the U.S. after announcing it at fMC in February," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Facebook is continuing to roll out the beta to a limited amount of businesses in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Turkey, but it's not a global roll out. It's not yet available to additional U.S. businesses."
Here's how Facebook announced the launch:
Now, you can get discounts from businesses when they post an offer on their Facebook Page. To claim an offer, all you need to do is click Get Offer from the story anywhere you see it on Facebook.
You'll start to see offers by Pages you like in your news feed. After you click Get Offer, Facebook will send you an email that you can print off or show on your mobile phone at the business to redeem your discount.
When it was first announced two months ago, Offers was described as "a free and easy way for businesses to share special discounts and promotions" that "let a business share a discount or promotion directly from a Facebook Page."
Offers can be distributed through the News Feed or promoted as Sponsored Stories. People can redeem Offers via e-mail or on a mobile device by clicking the "Get Offer" link. If you still don't get it, just watch the video embedded above.
In short, if you want to avoid seeing Offers, you're going to have to Unlike all the Pages you have Liked so far. You can do that now, or you can simply Unlike the Facebook Pages that start spamming your News Feed with Offers.
That being said, I wouldn't recommend you choose the first option. The second one at least lets you get a feel for Offers; you can always get annoyed and go with the first. You should probably know, however, that I haven't Liked any Facebook Pages myself.
Depending on how businesses use Offers, this could be a very useful or very annoying feature on Facebook. Thankfully, Unliking a Facebook Page is as easy as Liking it in the first place. Still, it may make you reconsidering which Facebook Pages you end up Liking in the future: the button just doesn't mean what it used to mean.
We first heard of Offers late last year, when they were just coupons. In fact, Facebook was actually using the word "coupon" then but ended up changing its language to "offer" instead.
So is this a direct attack on services like Groupon and LivingSocial? I wouldn't say a direct attack, because the business model is very different, but I do think Facebook is hoping for a new revenue stream from coupons. After all, Facebook is by no means monetizing Facebook Pages as well as it could be.