Facebook and Instagram update privacy policies, freeloaders foam at the mouth.

First, a disclosure. I was sucked in by the Facebook hype. I have lost money on the stock, on paper. It’s OK. I’ll live.

Now, on to today’s topic, the disclosure of a change to the privacy policies of Facebook and Instragram. PC Magazine just posted an opinion piece about this topic entitled “Facebook is Killing Instagram.” Big deal. It’s not like they’re hiding the cure for cancer somewhere on their servers.

Here’s what I’ve learned since I first took an onramp to the information superhighway. People like free stuff. Heck, I like free stuff. But people forget that free still costs money. Somewhere along the way, someone has to pay for the bits, bytes, flops and RAM. How is this done? Advertising. What attracts advertising? Users. What happens when the advertisers refuse to pay more money? The “free” service figures out new ways to generate revenue.

In Facebook’s case, did anyone step up and say “I’ll pay $25 so you won’t share my stuff”? Nope. They whined. Imagine this. If all of Facebook’s half-billion users kicked in a dollar that would be a half-billion dollars of revenue. $5? $2.5 billion in revenue. Then maybe they don’t have to sell that picture of you doing a kegstand five years ago. I can see the tagline “Don’t do a kegstand so you can get free beer. Get rid of cable.”

The same thing is happening with Google Apps and Gmail. Google figured out that there were lots of freeloaders, like me. Google has said no more freeloading on Google for Business for 10 users or less (for new people). So I am a grandfathered freeloader. Google has also taken away Exchange ActiveSync from Gmail and the free Google Apps accounts. Oh well. If I want EAS, then I will have to figure out how to come up with the $50 per user that Google wants. But I don’t need EAS. So I will remain a freeloader until Google makes it too unpleasant for me.

Speculation is that Google’s ActiveSync license was getting expensive. And that Google is mad that Microsoft is trying to make inroads in mobile phones. So it would stand to reason that Google is trying to discourage people from using Windows Phone while freeloading on Google’s Gmail system. Easy enough. Either the Gmail user pays up or moves on. Hence the migration to Outlook.com, Microsoft’s free email site (the much more sophisticated incarnation of Hotmail) Want it free? Go find it. And take your little dog, too.

Many moons ago it was said that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This is still true today. To keep all the twits, tweets, postings, photo uploads and general foolishness of the Internet running, money has to be made and spent. The companies need to do it some way. The business model of giving it away and never making money has been proven to be not profitable. Duh.

So make sure that, when crying, you don’t drip on your touchscreen device. You might short it out. And that repair will cost money.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin. Have a safe and Happy New Year.

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