Is Facebook service ‘free’? How many of us believe that it’s a free service and not paid. Well, have you ever thought we have paid our ‘privacy’ to be able to use it? Even if we customize it to the core, yet facebook knows what one is interested in, the dynamics of behavior, social circle to name a few. For some it’s creepy while there are others for whom it’s cool.
It is not the case with Facebook alone, there are other ‘free’ internet based related services that are ubiquitous now. Services being referred here are, email addresses, social networks, internet-based phone calls including Skype, instant messengers, e-cards, anti-virus programs, newsgroups, online social groups, virtual hard disk space etc. All these ‘free’ services are trying to project a life of convenience and of course phenomenal to an average end user.
Another reason for its state of being in ubiquitary is the coming of interactive and intuitive graphical browsers, which had empowered end users in navigation hence, has rapidly developed into a commercial enterprise.
Okay, coming back to my previous point, the ‘free’ service part, whenever we sign up for any of these freebies we actually shed information about ourselves like our spending habits, likes – dislikes, habits etc. consequently giving access to our buying patterns. Equipped with the provided answers, the service providers matches up with the appropriate ads, be it banners ads, display ads, rollovers, suggestions and somewhere even the text ads. At times, these floating ads become so cumbersome as they occupy the major portion of the screen.
Receiving ads in our inboxes is another example of thwarting one’s privacy. Isn’t it an act of infringement on an individual’s right to privacy?
When there are no ads, information is being collected in terms of online traffic patterns and this is done via cookie. As maintained by cookiecentral.com,
A cookie is a small piece of information written to the hard drive of an Internet user when he or she visits a website that offers cookies. Cookie files are extremely small, comprising no more than 255 characters and 4k of disk space. Cookies can contain a variety of information, including the name of the website that issued them, where on the site the user visited, passwords, and even user names and credit card numbers that have been supplied via forms. Cookies are supposedly only retrievable by the site which issued them, and link the information gathered to a unique ID number assigned to the cookie “so that…information is available from one session to another.
With the technological advancement, these cookies have morphed into stealth cookies that sit on the web-pages and steals the original cookies for the third parties. Not only this, by employing a proper cookie scheme, website developers can also get access to demographic details let’s say, which are interested in a particular product or services.
So as I was saying these ‘free’ services are not free but in actual case, we end up paying huge amount of information about our own selves, which otherwise would have been difficult to obtain by these web developers. There is always a question on users’ personal privacy and security.
Therefore, the moral of the story is, no matter what you do on internet, you are not safe, you are constantly under the radar of being tracked. There is no such concept as free lunch as a matter of fact, free online services do come but with a heavy price.