"If you aren't paying for the product, you are the product."
That's a phrase we hear all the time now.
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:
- WordPress: Only last week, WordPress gave its media manager a huge overhaul and is now a great solution for photo blogging.
- Joomla: Version 3 has been re-written from the ground up with Bootstrap and is a great option for mobile publishing.
- Drupal: They are doing a great job of showing that SAAS services don't have to endanger your privacy.
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.