Most of the time we spend on the web is using free services and they have become an essential part of daily life for many. The top services, like Google, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube etc have become global mega brands and close to indispensable. Clearly they’re very useful and they’re free, which is great, right?
In cliché overload, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”. That is these services aren’t actually ‘free’. To get them we have given away / exchanged a value asset, our data. Our personal data, our behavioural data, any data even where we are right now and what we’re eating! Whether this is a good thing or not has been a debate almost since these services started.
Two recent articles by Ethan Zuckerman and Evgeny Morozov sum up the key issues involved and flag up the issues going forward, including whether we’re better off paying for these services. Two good reads!
(from The Atlantic)
(from The Observer)