The Cost of Free is a LOT more expensive all of a sudden

I re-ordered the units in my class and as serendipity would have it, today we are watching Mark Zuckerberg testify today as to “The Cost of Free”. The Wall Street Journal article attached to this lesson is all of a sudden, well, wrong. I have been teaching my students that when they use social media and really, when they use any free services on the Internet, they are the product and not the customer. So, the idea of “cost” is only just barely relevant. Facebook, for example, is not providing services to social media users. Facebook is providing services to “advertisers” and “influencers”.

How are people managing this shift in awareness in your classes?


@steve1This is something that I will bring up after my students complete their Create PT. I will also discuss the topic with my new students in the fall.

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Same here. This is a very important lesson with all the news about privacy.

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I don’t even download ‘free’ apps on my phone. All of the ‘free’ ones send out advertisement after advertisement. Easier to pay. Funny think is that as soon as you upgrade to the ‘pay’ app, the ads keep coming.

I did a 3-day detour into CS ethics which was anchored in this facebook controversy. We listened to 2 episodes of The Daily podcast about the scandal and talked about it. It was intersting because students’ “solution” was to make a “paid” version of facebook to fix the problem, but I feel like that means that only people who can afford to pay are allowed privacy and privacy feels like a right, not a “extra service for a fee”. It was a GREAT discussion though!

Also, if you want to think more about this there is a #EthicalCS chat on Twitter occasionally that is worth checking out. I know people on there have pushed my thinking about how to approach ethics in CS. It is one of my ongoing goals to incorporate this more into the class and this Faceebook story is ripe for that.

ALSO, it is worth listening to the Senate hearing with Mark Zuckerberg… it emphasizes the need for a course like CSP! There were certainly some misconceptions about technology that were surfaced. We talked briefly about that a class too.

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Here is a post I wrote on the cost of free. Let me know what you think.

“Facebook is doing exactly what it is designed to do (and it is literally killing us)” @conches

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