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With news of Unroll.me selling user inbox info to Uber, lots of people are repeating "if you're not paying for it, you're the product."

I've said before, and will continue to say, that that is the wrong formulation. Sometimes you pay for it and you're still the product – look at US ISPs. Sometimes you don't pay for it and you're not the product – free software.

The real question is whether a software or service empowers users, which can't be boiled down to whether you paid.

I want to add something to what I said above, which is that equating payment with trust is bad and people who do that are likely trying to sell you something

@xor you generally won't be disappointed if you assume you are always the product, but sometimes may be pleasantly surprised.

@xor I agree, although I feel like need to point out to casual. readers that free software is not gratis. Someone does pay for it, and sometimes the payment is deferred, especially when software is used for paid work.

@xor See also the new Bose scandal where you buy expensive headphones and they still manage to steal data from you :-(

@xor It's a question of who owns the data and what their rights and responsibilities are.

It's almost feudal in nature, but with contract law in place of the Magna Carta.

@xor Yikes! I hadn't heard that. I'm glad I cancelled my account when I switched away from Gmail.

@xor Maybe we should recontextualize paying for it. FOSS still requires a payment, either in giving up the shiny hotness that comes from the big services or the actual development resources of maintaining the projects/services.

As they say "If you can't find the sucker at the table..."

It's me. I'm the sucker. :<

@xor definately true on paid services where you are also the product. I like to think of payment (especially for FOSS) that it is a product I want to see being sustainable.

I do sort of expect rolled up usage stats (not my personal info) being used for "free" services, or at least ads being shown, as something has to still pay for the service. The usage terms should be clear though.

@xor hard agree, boggles me that people don't seem to get this

@xor #$@%! I've used then long ago... *Sigh* 😞

@xor Yes, thank you!! "if you're not paying, you're the product" is only part of the story.

@xor my new slogan: "I did a statistical regression analysis and not paying correlates to being the product with an r of ~0.6"

@xor @darius Where r is the sample _product_ moment correlation coefficient 😂

@xor Users can be plenty empowered, but it means nothing unless there's a regulatory environment strong enough to investigate and prosecute offenders. Lots of these things are already illegal but cons keep them underfunded, understaffed, and forbidden from actually carrying out the law.

@xor or maybe we can all agree that the problem is in fact capitalism and it's time to get rid of it?

@xor bravo! now do the one about how only two industries talk about users

@xor I agree with all of this, but just to stir up hornets' nest a bit:

1. how about: "if you're not paying for it, there's a good chance you're the product"

2. we really have to start making #FLOSS users understand they *need* to support the software they're using financially even if there is no upfront price tag.

@rysiek I'm with you 100%. "if you can't figure out the business model, that's a pretty good indicator that you're what they're selling" might work, but it needs some workshopping.

@rysiek @xor How about "Proprietary software is evil, use libre software. And trust your admin!"
@xor @rysiek "If you can't tell what they're selling, but they look like they do, it's you"?

@xor "If you're not paying for it, you're the product (unless it's FOSS)." does not exclude the possibility "Sometimes when you're pay for it, you're still the product."

It just says that if you aren't paying for it, it's more likely that you're the product.

And sometimes, when it's a common-based platform managed by users for their own purposes, you can not pay and still not be the product. "If you're not paying for it, you're the product" should be prefaced with "Under capitalism..." @xor

@xor The whole of the Free and Open Source experience had proved that beyond doubt. Capitalists and other re-centralisers don't get to litigate this charge twice.

@xor good point, but I still made sure to toss some bitcoin at this GNU Social instance when I started to use it....its on a FOSS advocacy and educational platform, so I'm sure I'm fine here on sdf.org, donation or not :-)

@xor a lot of things you have to pay for and still get advertised at

@pompomtom @xor
"if you're not paying for it, you're the product" is not a hard-and-fast rule, but true frequently enough (and true in the BIG examples) to be very useful for influencing actions...

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