If you aren’t the customer, then you’re the product, as they say. Facebook gives away a free service, in return for control and ownership of all your data. This article does a great job of showing just how much information companies have on us, pulled together from many different sources.
The converse of this is that open, free-as-in-freedom social networking platforms, will have to be paid for. How much will it cost?
Friendica is an open federated social networking platform similar to Facebook which, while very rough around the edges, comes close to providing a one-stop-shop for all your social networking needs. I poked around on Google for info on how much it costs to run Friendica, and found a random forum post where someone mentioned that they host 48 users on a 512MB VPS.
So say 50 users, and say the VPS costs £20/month – the hosting cost is 40p per month per person, or £5/year.
That’s an extreeeemely rough guesstimate. And it only takes into account server costs, not the costs of paying a server administrator, or software developpers to fix bugs and add new features.
Nevertheless, I find that £5/year figure quite encouraging. It might cost money to be the customer and not the product, but it doesn’t have to cost very much.