Despite popular belief and the fact that no one pays to sign up to it, Facebook isn’t free. Every single customer of the worlds biggest social network platform pays to be a member, not with their cash, but with their preferences, security and personal information.
You are paying Facebook with your personal information
Every time you like a photo on Facebook, it’s recorded within an algorithm. Each time you mention a brand or product it’s remembered, and every time you follow a new page that’s recorded also. This allows Facebook to build up a profile (picture) of you and target you with adverts.
Pay Per Click advertising is big money for Facebook with some single clicks costing over $25 per to the advertisers. That means that if Facebook can convince you to click on an advert for whiplash (a highly competitive keyword) they can make $25 regardless of whether you take up the service, or not. Imagine then that you click on 4 different adverts for the same service and you can see how easy it is for Facebook to become a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Now Facebook know what you like (and what you don’t) they can also provide their partners (advertisers) with even more details information so that they can target specific age group, specific towns and even those people with specific tastes in music.
You hand that information to Facebook every time you use the website; for free.
Facebook know where you’ve been (and where you’re likely to go)
Checking in to a venue with your mates is cool, right? Wrong! Every time you check in somewhere, Facebook records this. It knows where you are and where you have been. Using this information means it can also being to predict where you might go in the future, thus providing you with offers to specific retailers before you even realise you want them.
They’re only adverts. Why should I care?
Another reason that Facebook isn’t free is because they not only show you adverts, but they take the information and partner with other companies so that they can see what reaction you have to an advert. For example, if Facebook display you an advert for a new Ford car and then you buy one 2 weeks later, Ford and Facebook can link information to see that their advertising was successful. It’s then clear that you bought into the advert (the campaign) and target even more adverts at you.
The problem here is that by finely targeting you these organisations can make you purchase by impulse, ultimately costing you money you wouldn’t otherwise have spent. It’s been scientifically proven.