If You’re Not Paying For The Product …


If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.

That’s a phrase we hear all the time now.

We heard it in the wake of this week’s Instagram uproarany one of the many Facebook scandalsthe Digg crisis and when many other privacy controversies enrupt.

Any time a major website invades your privacy more than it normally does, the same phrase gets trotted out.

The trouble is, that phrase is nonsense.

That phrase applies only in some situations. It applies only if you’re choosing the wrong product. Here’s a better version of the phrase:

If you choose a bad product, you are the product.

Many of these bad products are new sites with failing or unproven business models.

What’s the Alternative?

There are plenty of great products which are complete free to use and don’t endanger your privacy. Those products are open source products. Here’s just a few of the biggest:

These products also have proven, sustainable business models:

  • WordPress: Automatic, which doesn’t own the WordPress project but does much to support it, has a whole variety of income streams based on WordPress.com and enterprise solutions.
  • Joomla: It has the support of a not-for-profit association.
  • Drupal: It also has the support of a not-for-profit association. Plus, they have the backing of Acquia, which based on profits from its enterprise solutions is headed for an IPO in 2014.

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal been around for a long time now. In total, these projects have been around for nearly 30 years now. That’s roughly 15 times longer than Instagram.

These, and other open source products, are popular, well-financed, long-established, have no privacy problems and are increasingly easy to use.

You can get a good product without paying and without compromising your privacy.

Choose a good product.

Choose open source.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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11 years ago

I would make the point that Instagram is not just a photo blogging app. For me it is an excellent way to publish photos with accompanying comments as Twitter Tweets & Facebook posts over 3G. That said, it is of great concern that these photos, many of which are of my son, could be used without my consent in inappropriate advertising. This is not what I agreed to when I originally accepted Instagram’s T&Cs!

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