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In Spite of Data ‘Fears’, Facebook Looks to Get Even More Information on Users With Free Wi-Fi Service




facebook-icon 1Hey, you can’t blame Facebook for wanting more data on its users. Marketers want it and will pay for it so Facebook is looking for new ways to provide it.

The latest comes in the form of a free wi-fi offering that is being used in the San Francisco area. Wired reports

The idea of offering people free Wi-Fi in exchange for their physical coordinates began at Facebook as a one-off experiment, a project by two engineers during an all-nighter in May 2012. Since then, Facebook has gradually spread what it now calls “Facebook Wi-Fi” further and further beyond the company’s corporate walls, deploying the system to cafes in Palo Alto and San Francisco and even into a line of routers made by Cisco.

The growth of Facebook’s free internet offering underscores the extent to which the social network is trying to vacuum up more and more information about its members, including their physical movements, and how valuable such data has become in selling advertising.

Once again, based on the hunger by marketers for more data and the money that is on the line this kind of offering should surprise no one. The question is whether the users of this service will truly know that they are being tracked and watched by Facebook to an even greater degree than normal? And the next question has to be, do they even care?

The service would work like this

Intended for use in businesses like cafes, Facebook Wi-Fi asks users to “check in” at the business location using their Facebook account. Once they do, or once they click a small opt-out link, they are granted wireless internet access.

Pretty slick. Will it get a more widespread roll-out and adoption? If these experiments prove that more data can be collected on a user than the answer is likely to be an emphatic ‘Yes!’. People love free things, especially wi-fi, and don’t worry much about what they might be sacrificing. If nothing else comes from the recent brouhaha over the government and the information it gathers on US citizens, it will be a greater understanding of the relative indifference of the Internt using public to these concerns.

The US is very much a ‘it won’t happen to me’ culture (that is until it DOES happen to someone then the outrage hits the fan) and Facebook, along with other Internet companies, are banking on it. Hey, it’s a free market and it appears that the market will bear it for now, so why not?

What’s your take on this one? Good idea that will be widespread or just a one-off?

  • cynthialil

    I choose where I eat lunch based on where I can get WifI so. . . yeah. . . I’d go for this in a heartbeat.