Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion on Monday and my twitter feed was immediately filled with tweets declaring disgust, anger and deep regret that the photo app should have ‘sold-out’ to the social network juggernaut.
For many the anger was rooted in Facebook’s precedent for buying up exciting and innovative apps only to take the team inhouse but dispense with the app altogether (see Gowalla).
For others, and this is what I’ve always found frustrating, the problem is the idea that Facebook is a ‘nasty’ network because it uses users’ data to monetise its services therefore users were deleting their Instagram accounts. This will no doubt upset many people, but i’m over the moon that this happens.
Our data is valuable and to continue to get access to free services we should be willing to trade on it.
It all started with Clubcard
Facebook is by no means the first to use data to make money while providing users a service. It all started with Tesco Clubcard. A revolutionary idea that has changed supermarkets, and commerce for ever.
I am not a heavy Facebook user, but I still have hundreds of photos on the site, endless messages, and videos. I have created dozens of events and groups, sent thousands of instant messages and direct messages as well as posts, pokes (in the early days) and kept in touch with my nearest and dearest for well over six years. Should I expect all this hosting and functionality for free?
It’s the same for Google. The search giant provides me with personal email, a browser, video hosting and video calling alongside a dozen other services free of charge, at the very least I should allow them to use my data to help pay for it all.
I’m happy for my cookies to be tracked, Google earns money, I get free services; for my search terms to be monitored, Google earns money I get free products; for my video category preferences to be remembered, Google earns money, I get to turn my mum into a cat when chatting to her on Google+.
Let me know in the comments below if you think i’m wrong. Should we be more guarded with our data? Is there a better way to monetize these services that protects our data?