Wait a minute...
Isn't El Reg "free" in exactly the same way as Google and Facebook?
Really, I don't recall ever being solicited for payment by Situation Publishing.
Also, I think conflating advertising with snooping is disingenuous. The two are not synonymous, they're not even inextricable. Certainly neither Google nor Facebook seem to get that, but it's true nonetheless. There's no particular reason why a company can't just advertise, without slurping your private bits.
On the other hand, everyone hates spam. Everyone. Except spammers, obviously. So a business model that relies exclusively on spamming is doomed to failure.
On the third hand, the idea that the future of society is culture locked behind a paywall, and only avariciously rationed out in micro-transactions, is truly a dystopian nightmare.
In reality the outcome would amount to global censorship, governed by the selfish laws of capitalism. The world would fall silent, save for the privileged few with more money than they know what to do with. The poor, which is at least 80% of the global population, remember, and which is already socially isolated by inadequate access to education and communications, would be locked out of an elitist information society altogether. And the majority of the remaining 20%, leading a meagre subsistence lifestyle with little to no disposable income, would be disinclined to waste precious resources on this universal lockdown of paywall culture.
It'd be like a reversion to pre-industrial society, for all but the one-percenters. In fact it'd devolve humanity further than that, back to the middle ages, before the advent of Gutenberg.
Clearly there's a problem with the current paradigm, but it's not because of open society, it's because the gatekeepers of this open society are inadequately regulated, or in fact not really regulated at all. More fundamentally, it's because there are gatekeepers, when there really shouldn't be. Those decentralised solutions that currently lie on the fringes of society need to be adopted as global standards, pushed through by governments if necessary (and clearly it is), to ensure that Big Money can't possibly slurp your data, because Big Money no longer exists.
There's your solution. Wipe out corporatocracy, not open society.