Reply to post: *Free* remains the problem

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Milton Silver badge

*Free* remains the problem

Just as with Google, Facebook and Twitter, the free part is actually the sickness at the heart of all these privacy, advert, intrusion and manipulation problems.

If something claims to be "free" ... it's almost certainly a marketurd's lie. There is no "free" if there are conditions attached. BOGOF in the supermakret is not free, because there is a condition attached: you have to buy one. "Free if you fill in our poll" is not free. "Free if we can seize your data and analyse it to try and sell you shit" is not free.

Thus we have Facebook Cancer: sheer exploitation in the name of almost insane greed.

But people are eternally stupid, lazy and greedy, and so they keep licking up "free" and getting shafted.

My radical view is that the law should absolutely prohibit any private companies collecting one scrap of data more than is required for operational compliance, purchasing, delivery, provision of services etc. Not a single item of data that has no operational use. Creation of such data would also be banned. Past purchase history would be an exception for obvious reasons, but even then your supplier would be flatly prohibited from any collective crunching on that data beyond preparing accounts. There would be none of this "Other things you might like ..." garbage, which is always laughably wrong anyway.

Why would this be good? Because Facebook and Google etc would then have to start charging for services. Whether it's $2/month for Facebook or £1.00 for 10,000 Google searches, or whatever, they would have to charge for their service, and you would revert to being what you always should have been: a paying customer with rights, dignity, privacy and very clear protections and entitlements.

If based on a degree of volume, you might even find that the 'net wasn't quite so full of shit, like photos of some idiot's lunch, or endless Twittorrhoea. Hell, people might even re-learn how to remember things instead of turning to Google every two minutes.

(If we charged just 1p for every ten emails sent, we could end the scourge of spam, get people to think more about the value of what they use on the 'net, and generate billions for a fund for internet security improvements or whatever. The disgusting Google model of spying on your private correspondence in order to sell shit would never have happened.)

Other benefits: forced into a paying model, the giants could at last be challenged by upstarts. We could see decent social media rivals to Facebook popping up, ready to compete on price, speed, privacy, ethics and efficiency. DDG could transition from being a niche engine (which sucks some Google stuff anyway) with a stupid off-putting name, to a genuine competitor to Google.

Yet another advantage is that adverts would abruptly have to move from the "throw shit at a wall and see what sticks" mode we see today—where internet ads are actually even worse, shittier and more amateurish than radio ads, something you wouldn't have thought possible—to becoming creative, imaginative, entertaining and attention-catching in good ways. Think of the difference between an old Carling (swill) ad with the Mission Impossible squirrel versus today's witless "He who drinks Foster's" (even worse swill) trash ads. Ads don't have to be clumsy garbage. We simply need to create a playing field where they cost enough to be worth doing properly.

Remember when the internet had choice aplenty, and you could look for what worked best for you, and vote with your feet? When the 'net actually felt lilke a place of opportunity and innovation and new ideas?

If we (or our governments, which is the obvious weak point in all this, being run by lobbyist-funded morons) were prepared to think radically and creatively about Facebook Cancer we could actually solve it quite easily. It needs only legislation, and the market would then sort itself out (while squealing like pigs, I grant you).

We really just need to wake the f*** up and start thinking about what kind of 'net we want for our grand-children.

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