If you thought that using Facebook was free, think again.
The ancestral motto of "free lunch does not exist" is true for Facebook's business model, which many experts have argued is based on business users & personal data as currency. And what the social media platform does -or allows others to do- with these data has recently generated much criticism following the current Cambridge Analytica Scandal .
Facebook has a tough battle ahead as it tries to restore its name and regain public confidence, and the last shot in that war is an official blog post "Difficult Questions" that seeks to reassure to Facebook users who "are not the product".
In the post, Facebook's vice president of advertising, Rob Goldman, answers the question: "If I do not pay for Facebook, am I the product?"
"No," it's Goldman's answer. "Our product is social networks: the ability to connect with the people you care about, wherever they are in the world, it's the same with a free search engine, website or newspaper." The central product is reading the news or searching information, and there are announcements to fund that experience. "
While Goldman quickly compares Facebook to a "website or newspaper," the social media platform has historically fought against any suggestion that it is a media company.
In fact, when the US Senate UU he questioned about which companies are direct competitors of Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg struggled to find an answer.
No food for free
It is difficult to define what service Facebook really offers, even for its CEO. Not only does it have the largest social networking network in the world, but it also sells advertising space and, now, hardware such as the Oculus Rift VR headset and its apparently delayed smart speakers.
Although the company can claim that its main product is the social networking site itself, it's not hard to understand why Goldman's statement sounds hollow.
Strictly following the flow of money, Facebook's free social networking site can make a profit through the compilation and collection of user data, which is then delivered (usually indirectly) to advertisers to target the ads. Most would argue that this structure makes advertisers the customers, no matter how Facebook wants to spin it, and this blog post will probably not do much to change that perception.