Ms. Tufekci’s argument that usage of free internet services would continue to thrive on a fee system is unconvincing. I or my employer would willingly pay for Google Earth and Google Maps - maybe Youtube - and some search engines - since these things are genuinely useful. But the usage of Facebook and Twitter would go way down if a fee was charged. But that would be a good thing! Maybe people would rediscover the magic of actually interacting with other humans next to them instead of those little screens in their pockets.
It has always perplexed me why some of these companies do not just charge one or two dollars for their services. For some reason they believe that when they charge for services they charge an obscene amount such as $15 per month, where as the revenue potential for millions of customers paying $1 to $2 per year is quite significant. I actually do believe that there is a potential for a future company to try this business model, as the profitability is increased over one’s competitors because a substantial amount of their resources are spent determining how to make money off of ads that can be otherwise freed up to focus on how can one serve their customers better.
I have never noticed that small amounts of income from some, when there are millions to be made from larger, leads to more attention to “serving” small customers. They use the terms, but it’s not what they mean. One illustration is to look at public television and radio, where the focus is on corporate sponsors and only recently, with the disappearance of government funding, much attention to the preferences of small donors. We see it in divestment activism too.
The true solution is to nationalize the internet and get serious about privacy, rather than having to pay a bribe to avoid their exploiting our activities for profit.
One reason it would be hard is that the middle class imagines a world where everyone has a credit, or at least a deficit, card, so we’re just quibbling over cost. I live in a world where most of my neighbors don’t even have a bank account.
Maybe we could take that money and create an ad free alternative to FB.
Then we could tell Zuckerberg to stuff his algorithm in an assonant area of his anatomy.