Friday, May 18, 2012

Is Facebook really free?

I read an opinion piece this morning in the USA Today that has been on my mind all day.

The piece, written by Cord Jefferson, suggested that Facebook isn't really free.  That anyone who uses it, like most of us bloggers, are really paying a price.  A price that is ourselves!  We are the product!

He brings up an interesting point. I've certainly been brought up to believe that "If something is too good to be true, then it probably is." And when I stop and really think about Facebook, it is free.  There's no registration fee, no monthly fee.  I enjoy it.  It really is "To good to be true." The company isn't worth $100 billion for no reason. Sadly, I believe Jefferson is right.  WE are the commodity here.  We are selling our likes, dislikes, personal information for the price to be a Facebook member.  That really bothers me to think of it that way.

At some level I already knew all of this, but I guess, reading it in print brought it more to the surface and has me really pondering why I ultimately use Facebook when if the situation were different, I wouldn't hesitate to pull the plug on a company that uses me like this.

For example, I am a big fan of Yoplait Yogurt.  I eat one of their yogurts everyday.  But if they told me that a representative from Yoplait was going to follow me around every day, watch my friends and watch what I like (and don't like) in an attempt to market their product to me better.  Well, I would say, "Absolutely not!"

Yet, that's exactly what I'm allowing Facebook to do by being a member. 

I think why this has been on my mind all day is because this article brings to light a conflict of sorts in my inner being.  I obviously use Facebook and enjoy keeping up with friends on it and don't really want to stop using it, yet allowing Facebook to basically use me to allow companies to market to me and my friends, well, that just goes against my to speak.

I'm sure there's another side to this coin so I'm curious what you think.

You can find Jefferson's full article here on USA Today's Website.


  1. In my opinion, it's just like any other transaction. If what you get out of being a member is worth the info you give them, then it's perfectly fair.

    Would you change your mind about Yoplait if, in return for them doing the things you mentioned, they gave you free yogurt for the rest of your life?

    You just have to decide if you're getting enough in exchange for what you're paying.

  2. That's a great point, Brian. Thanks for sharing.