[afnog] Another Perspective - Kentik's View on the Facebook Outage

Philip Paeps philip at trouble.is
Sat Oct 9 06:50:27 UTC 2021

On 2021-10-09 13:48:41 (+0800), Mark Tinka wrote:
> On 10/9/21 02:29, Markus Akena Wipfler wrote:
>> No argument there. But FB is not for free. We are the product. We pay 
>> with our privacy.
> I know making this statement of "being the product if it's free" has 
> gained a lot of popularity in recent years, but for me, it doesn't 
> track. It sounds clever to say, but it's wrong.
> Yes, you are giving up some things by being a patron to a service that 
> you do not pay money for. But Facebook is not the first product where 
> we have done these things. "Free with advertising" has been a model 
> for a very long time, long before Facebook, and long before the 
> Internet, in which there is no indication that users are treated like 
> "the product".

I agree that the users are not Facebook's products.  As far as I'm 
aware, Facebook does not engage in human trafficking after all.  The 
users' data are the product.

In the historical advertising model, you paid for services with your 
time.  Your part of the bargain was to watch some generic advertising to 
generate revenue.  In the contemporary surveillance capitalism model, 
Facebook (and other internet surveillance conglomerates) distract you 
with their software while they gather data about you to sell.  In this 
model, you provide both your time (which generates advertising revenue) 
and your data (to be sold to advertisers).

Is the service really worth both your time and your data?

> Downloading Linux or UNIX OS's, for example, is generally free. You 
> certainly aren't the product there.

This is not dissimilar to how starving artists operate.  Paintings and 
statues are created for the enjoyment of the masses and to improve the 
aesthetic of the public space (subject to taste).  Occasionally the 
artist gets some money for a commission or an exposition.

Like the art, you don't get exclusive enjoyment.  And if your statue's 
bits break off, you have to glue them back yourself.


Philip Paeps
Senior Reality Engineer
Alternative Enterprises

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