Get Paid to Surf the Web? As If


The reason Facebook and other digital media platforms are free is because they use our browsing data as a tool for advertisers to track appropriate audiences and offer up products and services that we may actually wish to have.

When people get fed up with being served advertisements every fourth post in their news feed, they can leave Facebook, and that's essentially a market decision, but it's not like where they go next isn't doing the same thing. And it's certainly not cause for people to demand they be paid for their personal data that is being collected. In fact, in this increasingly privacy-free era, don't expect an uptick in any rights over your own mind and body.

Yet, that's the pin being threaded by Financial Times contributor John Thornhill , who is among the voices who think people should be paid to do nothing but be.

Mr Zuckerberg’s concern for the marginalised in society is commendable, as is his commitment to building strong communities. Unlike most of the rest of us, he has the personal influence to help tackle the problems of our age. He runs one of the world’s most valuable companies and has a ready-made digital pulpit from which he can make his case to Facebook’s 2bn global users. He should now live up to his rhetoric and launch a Facebook Permanent Fund to cover a broader universal basic income experiment. He should encourage other data businesses, such as Google, to contribute too. The most valuable asset that Facebook possesses is the data that its users, often unwittingly, hand over for free before they are in effect sold to advertisers. It seems only fair that Facebook makes a bigger social contribution for profiting from this massively valuable, collectively generated resource.

Columnist James Pethokoukis sees the underlying threat invariably aimed at any company that dares to be a runaway success.

It’s almost as if the subtext to the “get paid to surf the web” movement is “pay us or we will regulate you or break you up.”

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Pardon my ignorance, but didn't this concept become commonplace long before Facebook was invented?