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Would you pay for social networking?

In his talk, Kovacs discusses how advertizing companies track us across the internet without our knowledge or consent. The data they collect reveals a great deal about us and is not secure.

Most web companies will already turn personal data over to law enforcement without asking for a warrant and without your knowledge. And it seems like every time we turn around, Facebook is trying to implement some kind of change that erases all our privacy settings without our consent.

All of this happens because we are not the customers of these websites. We are the product they sell to advertising companies. So the question is: do you want to be a customer? Online games are able to make a profit charging their subscribers only a few dollars a month. Would you pay a similar fee for social networking if it meant not having to look at ads, and more importantly, having better control over what gets done with your data?

I know I would. If you feel similarly, it's time to let programmers know there is a potential business opportunity here.

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    May 3 2012: Are you confident that a paying format would protect your privacy for perpetuity?
    • May 4 2012: You're thinking of CISPA I assume? Admittedly there is nothing any private company could do about that if it passes. But currently, Twitter has a track record of helping users protect their privacy, whereas Facebook keeps trying to undermine it - and openly supports CISPA - so there is some variance in how social networks are run. The same would be true under CISPA; only the range of actions companies could take would be different. And it stands to reason that paying customers would have more influence on a company's policies.
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    May 9 2012: No. I don't think that advertising works the way a lot of people think it does.

    I couldn't care less about some unknown company gathering data from crap I've said on facebook. I know they tailor ads that pop up on my page based on what I have posted but I don't pay any attention to them and at this stage, they're not too intrusive.

    I'm not sure why people are worried about data collection, unless they feel they are missing out on a potential money-making opportunity. Most companies won't yet be able to draw anything useful from the screeds of data out there anyway. It'll take time to see how or if this data can be meaningful.
  • May 8 2012: No. In case we've forgotten, just a few short years ago none of this existed and we were better off without it. I'd gladly go back to talking on the phone, which I already pay for, or speaking face to face.
    • May 8 2012: If you don't like social networking at all then the question is not relevant to you.
      • May 9 2012: Your puting words in my mouth, Lee. All I said is we can all live without it.
        I haven't been blinded by the likes of facebook. While it is convenient, the bad things that come along with it aren't going to just go away if we all pitch in a few bucks a month. So, then, on top of having our personal info sold without our consent, being exposed to viruses and phishing scams and God knows what all else, the question is will we also begin paying for all that? The question isn't a simple one.
        What begins small will grow, how much are you willing to pay?
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    May 10 2012: "Would you pay a similar fee for social networking if it meant not having to look at ads, and more importantly, having better control over what gets done with your data?"

    That's, um, really thought-provoking. After thinking about it, I actually don't mind the ads. There aren't that many, really, on Facebook. Even the ads that sometimes pop out at the beginning of YouTube vids are still tolerable.

    Call me blithe or ignorant, but I'm not paying for Facebook. They can steal data from me and sell it to whichever company they fancy for tailored ads or whatever. But if they're keeping track of my purchases for online price customisation (Read this article here: http://bit.ly/Jfj3hy), then I won't put up with it. I'll probably stop using social networking sites, or switch to a secure, paid one (If it exists and all my friends are moving there too).

    "If you feel similarly, it's time to let programmers know there is a potential business opportunity here."

    Having said that, I'm sceptical that there's any business potential for a secure, paid social networking site. People won't pay for something that can be gotten for free. Even if, say, Google + is more secure than Facebook, I don't see a mass migration taking place.
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    May 9 2012: We are used to free access and it allows for the broad democratization of ideas.
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    May 9 2012: No, I'm more interested in the increasing transparency and access of web activity than privatization.
    But if you don't like that, then I think the best answer is to develop ways to watch the watchers.

    If we can accept that the web is essentially a public space there is no problem. Problems arise when we act like the three-year-old who puts his hands over his eyes and gleefully says, "You can't see me now!"

    We have much more important things to accomplish with the web besides protecting a right we impose. What are the next billion people going to bring to the human family that might help us survive the stress we are putting on the planet?

    Yeah i like privacy. It would be nice. Holding hands with strangers to bring the planet safely through this century would be even nicer. But that's just me.

    Could we use the internet to stop oh a billion people from starving to death?

    I knew a parent who grabbed a favorite doll of a toddler and threw it into a busy street. (Not maliciously, but purposefully and with love) After the toddler stopped crying, the parent hugged the child and explained why it is so important to be careful.

    The Internet is not a toy.
  • May 8 2012: I don't use social media for those precise reasons. I don't facebook, myspace or twitter (but then, I don't have any friends either :-).
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    May 8 2012: Yes. If you break down social experiences with our friends that occur outside of 'digital networks' then they all cost something either directly or indirectly. Take for example meeting your friends to have a drink, having someone over for dinner, or playing in a bowling or other sponsored league. Believe it or not, we are already paying for social experiences.

    If paying a nominal fee (say $5/month) allowed me to keep all my Facebook activity secure and removed the ads, then I would certainly be willing to pay for that service.
  • May 8 2012: I live in Argentina. Here its rare to buy things on the internet, or pay for digital content. Even for online games, like World of Warcraft... people here would rather play on ad-based (non official) free servers.
    Paid social networking would be a complete failure here.
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    May 8 2012: any one know orkut ?
  • May 8 2012: No. There will always be a company/product that is willing to take the place of Facebook.
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    May 8 2012: Well, the question which was not even existed a decade back, is troubling our minds! To be honest Lee, I feel puzzled for a moment what will I do if it gets paid, but when I do some soul searching, its a trap of over indulgence in something which doesn't benefit our personal lives at all. For Linkedin, I don't mind paying.
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    May 8 2012: no
  • May 6 2012: funny,....that is the reason i dont use Facebook,.....but some how i still get spam,...crazy......and i wish we wern't mindless zombies...........
  • May 6 2012: we are not a customer? I don't think so, for example with fb credits we are for sure
  • May 6 2012: I do pay for Flickr, and the answer is: It depends on the social network.

    If a social network is not a viable business it will disappear.
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    May 6 2012: Hmmm...I want to say "no" to your topic question. I would if you could guarantee a thoughtful and helpful environment will exist. This network also has all the best experts of the field or most knowledgeable of every subject you could think of. It also wouldn't be like Facebook or Twitter. It would be impossible in my mind to fathom all these components to always be present, so no, it would be a silly idea to me.

    Now privacy, well, it should always be guaranteed regardless, but trust in someone or something that you can't see is difficult. I wouldn't know how much I would trust such a social network because there are still Hackers out there.
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    May 4 2012: i don't think its appropriate to charge users who spend lot of time on social networking websites.social networking websites do earn much of their revenue through advertising and more over Facebook,twitter does have users who are adolescents so do you think will it be appropriate to charge them?
    • May 6 2012: Why ever not? We charge adolescents for their cell phones and for game subscriptions. Maybe their parents are the ones who pay, but it's their choice to do so.