Read Our Lips: “You Are The Product”

Point!I loved seeing this post the other day from Venture Beat and Meghan Kelly – Paying for privacy: Why it’s time for us to become customers again

It’s a marvel to me that maybe users of online services still don’t get this.

Last summer as I drove into work one morning, I recall the morning radio hosts having a discussion about Facebook.  They put out to their listeners this question:

If Facebook cost $1 per month, would you pay it?

I was amazed at the results as listeners called in.  I’m not sure I heard even one “yes” (though it wasn’t a super long drive, and it was a small set of responses…)

Two thirds of Americans are on Facebook.  Callers even talked about how mad they would be to have to pay $1 per month – since, essentially, they can’t live w/out their Facebook.

So there it is – if you want it free – then “you are the product”.  Simple yet seemingly users don’t get it – or fundamentally object.  In other words, we want our cake and to eat it too.  Give me the great service, for free, AND don’t monetize me.

Gmail is taking heat in court this week, on this very principle.  If you use Gmail, you may do so because you it’s a good web-based email service.  It has great search capabilities, lots of storage and other features – and reasonably well-targeted advertisements.

Those advertisements pay your freight.  You are the product.

Gmail leverages non-human screening of email messages to make this possible.  That has pulled them into a class-action lawsuit being carried out now – and is a whole other story (see: Google Says It Can Read Users Email).

You are the product.

Does everyone get this these days?  In what ways could those providing services online make this exchange more clear?

Let us know in the comments.



photo by: a2gemma

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