When FREE Is Definitely Not: What Those Free Services Are Really Costing You

When most companies – and especially corporations – provide extremely desirable and advanced services without charging you it is definitely NOT out of the goodness of their hearts. You can be assured that there is always a profit motive – always. That is a given – the obvious truth; what is not so obvious is what the means of generating profit is.

In the past, the most common way the cost of anything we receive that is free in theory has been paid for is by advertising. Magazines and newspapers subsidize the cost of subscriptions with advertising. Local free publications provide the end user with a free copy which is actually paid for the ads they contain. Free to you; paid for by the advertiser. That has been the most common model.

Profit is one thing; freedom is another. Instead of paying for services with advertising we are now trading our privacy for computer services such as email and Web analytics. This is a very dangerous trade because our personal information is not being used only to better target advertising – although that IS what we are told. It is increasingly likely to be used to take away our last vestiges of freedom.

The majority of humans are quick to judge, easily swayed, and lack understanding of common logic faults. Combine those traits with an abundance of information and the potential for the innocent to be condemned, imprisoned, or worse is all too likely.

Here is a real life examples of assumptions of guilt made:

  • Drug dealers buy lots of plastic baggies; therefore, anyone who buys large quantities of plastic baggies is a drug dealer
  • Have you ever bought such common items as scouring pads, alcohol, cigarette lighters? What if you bought one or more of these items for someone else? What if a relative uses your phone number to buy them? What do these items indicate you could be? You may already be considered guilty and not even know why!
  • Before it hit the evening news how many knew that cold medicines are used for something else?
  • What other common items you buy have other uses you may not even know about?

Jumping to conclusions is highly dangerous to our liberty. Most people are only too happy to believe someone else is guilty based on superficial “evidence” and how it is presented. Many would instantly believe that someone IS a drug dealer because they buy lots of plastic baggies! Even if wiser heads come to your defense it may be too late to reverse the tide of public opinion.

Who else might buy lots of plastic baggies? How about someone having a bake sale? Or providing the snacks for children’s activities?  Or someone who gives out sandwiches to the homeless?

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Montana Supreme Court Justice James C Nelson Warns 1984 Has Arrived:

“I don’t like living in Orwell’s 1984; but I do. And, absent the next extinction event or civil libertarians taking charge of the government (the former being more likely than the latter), the best we can do is try to keep Sam and the sub-Sams on a short leash.”

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

THE DANGERS of LOYALTY PROGRAMS and RFID TRACKING:

INNOCENT PEOPLE ARRESTED BASED ON LOYALTY CARDS:

Know of any others? Please leave information and related links if any in comments.

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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.

Comments

  1. Hey,

    Dropped by via you comment, like you mentioned Google’s main objective is to its shareholders.

    Example being adsense people make a lot from it, think the official ratio was 65% to publisher.

    Its aim it to build its real estate so to leverage ad revenue more.

    You use a service it gives that data on potential areas to leverage.

    Example of FB and their advertising , it is so effective because (or used to be) because you can hone in to single, 37yr old mums, living in London whoa re fans of Cher.

    Information is power and information is money. Statisticians, trend analysis and raw data. The companies that leverage those are the Big Boys.
    Donace would love you to read ..Why a com is better that a gov and edu linkMy Profile

  2. Thank you for this very informative article, and i really appreciate it. It is no longer impossible that these guys can really intrude into our lives. Like the spychips and all, the most common that i knew of was spyware only, and through this article i just came to know that even RFID and our loyalty cards have those things too. technology….

  3. The privacy implications of 3rd party services on the web is precisely why I am working on a super privacy policy generator, that will list just about every 3rd party service commonly used by bloggers and webmasters. (maybe you can help me with building the list)

    Not only will it give bloggers and webmasters some food for thought, it will also inform visitors exactly how all those “cool” blog widgets can affect them.

    I have to disagree though about there being a profit motive behind everything that is given away for free. There are some good people that give stuff away out of the kindness of their hearts.

    For example, I, personally, have given a ton of stuff away, all in the hopes of helping people and hearing the words “thank you” from time to time.

    DonationCoder.com hosts my websites for free, because they believe in me and what I do, and want to help me keep my software available and free for everyone to use. When giving my software away for free meant I could no longer afford to have a website, and I faced the choice of either going payware or taking my site down, the founder of the community asked me to move my site to their member server, rather than taking it permanently offline. (the founder is quite disgusted by the profit driven world we live in and works very hard at trying to make real a difference)
    .-= app103´s last blog ..Tons of Free Stock Photo Sites – Commercial Use OK – No Credit Required =-.

    • Hi April,

      That would be a long list. These two links might be useful for finding all Social Networking sites:

      http://knowem.com/
      http://twittinsecrets.com/

      We’re talking about different kinds of free. I was specifically talking about the global elite building huge profiles on everyone and the dangers that can create and definitely not about people like you and DonationCoder and me who do give much of our time and experience away to help as many others as possible.
      .-= growmap´s last blog ..Why Marketing is NOT Evil =-.

      • Don’t worry about the list, for now. I’ll contact you at some point to tell you what I need and some suggestions on how to obtain the info.

        And yes, I know it is going to be a long list, which is why I want to do it in parts, attacking one category at a time.

        And I expect to learn about a whole lot of services I didn’t know existed in the process. We should both end up with quite a bit of neatly organized info, worthy of sharing in a few blog posts, by the time we are finished.

        One of the reasons why I became active in Entrecard again was to have access to a lot of info, gathering it as I blog hop, dropping cards. I am studying every blog I land on to see what 3rd party stuff they are using.
        .-= app103´s last blog ..Free Buttons: Top Ten (CC-BY) =-.

  4. Adding a link to the EFF warning about Privacy exposure caused by the Search Across Computers function of Google Desktop.
    .-= Gail @ KeywordLuv´s last blog ..MEME: BizLuv in Support of Small Businesses =-.

  5. Nice articel thanks for posting !

  6. YouTube Facebook videos:

    Who’s Who (in power and wealth) according to Vanity Fair.
    .-= Internet Strategist @GrowMap´s last blog ..Top How to Make Money Blogging Resources =-.

  7. Interesting Google Agenda video
    .-= Internet Strategist @GrowMap´s last blog ..Best of GrowMap: Our Pillar Foundation Content =-.

  8. Linked to this comment you’ll find a fictional post about a future that may be fast approaching.

  9. @Sire True, there are many others who are building profiles on us all, but none is as ubiquitous as Google. Remember that all those entities can and do share information between themselves.

    InternetStrategist’s last blog post..Is Twitter Following Tweeters For Us?

  10. Fortunately for me the only thing I use other than Analytics is Adsense. I’ve even taken the Google plugin off my browser. The trouble is that Google isn’t the only culprit that exists on the Internet that tries to leach information from the unwary.

    Sire’s last blog post..Big Brother Google Opts For Interest-Based Advertising

  11. @Sire What it could be costing you depends on what other Google services you are using. It is naive to believe that Google won’t use all the data in their system to increase their earnings.

    For those who buy AdWords ads that could be extremely expensive. Use their analytics (Google Analytics or those in AdWords or both) and they know which keywords convert and potentially even what your profit margin is.

    Anyone who thinks they might not be tempted to use that information to maximize what they charge for advertising doesn’t realize how serious they are about making money.

    Read the comments in the post linked to this comment for more details on issues with Google. That isn’t the real point of this post which is trading our personal information for free services may eventually cost us our freedom.

    I don’t really get into how serious that all is here because I don’t want readers with closed minds to miss out on how to grow their blogs and businesses because their ears and eyes are closed to the obvious big picture.

    Internet Strategist’s last blog post..Don’t Make ANY Changes Based on Web Analytics Until You READ THIS FIRST

  12. OK? But how exactly is my being a Google Analytic customer costing me. Has it something to do with the script that I placed on my sites giving Google more information than I realize?

    Sire’s last blog post..The Quest For A Blogger’s Favorite Posts

  13. The post at that last link includes this phrase: “prevention of dissident groups from gaining access to U.S. opinion”. Bloggers could easily be considered a “dissident group”.

  14. Another reason I don’t use my real name online any more: http://memes.org/800-fema-prison-camps-time-take-gloves-vs-quotthe-meme-driven-lifequot

  15. My major concern with profiling and tracking systems are the potential uses. It has now been well documented that the efficiency with which the Nazi’s eliminated Jews and other “undesirables” was facilitated by the use of IBM equipment to identify and track them. http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/

    National ID systems have preceded genocide in many countries. http://www.preventgenocide.org/prevent/removing-facilitating-factors/IDcards/

    Most people are not taking seriously enough the potential uses of all this profiling and tracking. What happened in Nazi Germany can easily happen in any country in the world – including the United States.

    Anything in profiles could be used to target groups of people – even things that are totally “normal” and “legal” today. With the tracking available today, that group could quickly and efficiently “disappear” before anyone noticed.

    For those who do not believe it, consider whether anyone believed what was happening during the Holocaust. How many spoke out or tried to stop it? Why should now be any different?

    You may wish to check out this book:

    “Never before has there been a book devoted to the idea [of proving] that the logical outcome of government involvement in these areas (from government birth certificates to governmental databases and surveillance) is a 1984-style population control. That is why national ID systems have been called a ‘trademark of totalitarianism.”

    http://www.voluntaryist.com/books/nis/

    Those who fail to study history are destined to repeat it. Do you know when people were required to carry identification and why? I hope you’ll read this:

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