Saturday, October 1, 2011

The real cost of Facebook

To all you people out there who keep posting snarky comments about how facebook is free, for gosh sake and we should all just quit complaining about the constantly more invasive privacy policy changes, and the ever-evolving and ever-less appealing interface, I take issue with your basic premise.

Facebook is not free.

No way, no how. Your public library is free. Attendance at your local church is free. Food at the homeless shelter is free.

Facebook is NOT free.

If Facebook were truly free, Mark Zukerberg would not be a multimillionaire. But he is one. This is because he sells your time, attention and personal information to advertisers and spammers and makes a mint off of every minute you spend on your status updates and "likes". Mr Zuckerburg is no philanthropist. He is a savvy businessman-- some might even say a genius businessman. But he is not providing you with an opportunity to connect with friends, express your opinions, and "poke" people out of the goodness of his heart and a sense of civic responsibility. He is doing it because you are PAYING him to do it.

Facebook is NOT FREE.

The price you are paying is, as I mentioned time, attention and most of all-- your personal information. This information is the new currency of an ever-desperate advertising industry that is seeing their tv and print ad revenues diminish as fewer and fewer people watch tv and read print media. It is gold, people, solid gold.

Facebook is a service I use daily. I am, I confess, addicted. And I have no problem paying for a service that I use. I joined FB years ago and paid my upfront cost with a clear eye and an open mind. BUT. As time has gone by and that "price" has monthly increased, as changes have been made to the FB interface that inconvenience and annoy me, as more and more advertising takes up my side bars, and as my personal information is mined again and again to line the pockets of Mr Zuckerburg and his associates, I have become disillusioned. My rosy-colored glasses have come off. The Facebook honeymoon is over.

Imagine if your local gym raised it's monthly fees every. single. month. By significant amounts. Eventually you'd hit a price you were no longer willing to pay, right? What if they started replacing the workout equipment with couches and ice cream stands? Wouldn't you at some point start to wonder if this was really working out for you?

But before you eventually cancelled your membership and decided that jogging is actually a fine, cheap way to stay in shape, wouldn't you at some point complain to the management? Wouldn't you stand on your rights as a paying customer to air your opinions? I mean, it's part of the American Way.... And let me assure you once again, you are a paying customer of the Facebook franchise.


And I reserve the right to complain about what I don't like on there. It's the American Way.


septembermom said...

Bravo!! I agree!!

Lauren Valentine said...

Well said Elisa. Posting this on FB now...