Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The price of free social media services

The recent controversy over the Instagram's new user agreement language is a bit overblown, if you look at it closely.  However it does again provide a chance for people to ponder what we pay for all those "free" social media services. We don tend to forget the fact that, as users of those services, we really do not have the status of customer, as users of traditional, paid services do.  The service providers provide the services in exchange for private information or content we create that they can derive revenue from (usually through advertising/marketing).  In that sense, the advertisers or marketers are the true customers, and we users are, to put it bluntly, just crops.  All the things provided to us are for the sole purpose of certain kind of harvesting.

The biggest harvester out there is no doubt Facebook.  So don't really be surprised by the "voting" system they put out that really made a mockery out of the concept of democratized decision making, and even that had to be dismantled.  The only reason to keep crops happy is for the harvest, and a painless one usually has higher yield.  

As users we certainly should try to defend our rights to the max extent, but please do keep in mind our "crop" status to set realistic expectations.   There's an important distinction between us and real crops though: we do have the ability to walk away from the field.  

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