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Facebook says you are not your product


Inspiring posters hang on the walls of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

James Martin / CNET

Facebook faces the adage, "If you do not pay, you're the product."

That belief has repeatedly stung the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg while people raise concerns about the amount of information that they give to the social network in exchange for their service gratuitous. Since mid-March, the Cambridge Analytics data mining scandal has forced Facebook to face the problem more directly than ever.

Rob Goldman, vice president of Facebook advertising, addresses that concern directly in a blog post "Difficult Questions" on Monday when he answers the question: "If I do not pay for Facebook, am I the product?"

"No, our product is social networks: the ability to connect with the people you care about, wherever they are in the world," Goldman said in the mail.

He compared the model of free and commercial use of Facebook with the advertising of websites, newspapers and search engines.

"The main product is reading news or looking for information, and there are announcements to finance that experience," he added.

The publication of the blog also mentioned the amount of data that the social network has in its 2 billion users .

Advertising keeps the social network free, which Zuckerberg noticed earlier this month during testimony from Congress when lawmakers asked the CEO if the company would consider charging users . The issue of a paid version of Facebook came a day before his testimony when operations director Sheryl Sandberg suggested that if people want it without advertising, Facebook could start charging a subscription fee.

Goldman said Facebook does not sell information to advertisers, but collects data about people in large numbers to help advertisers target their ads to specific groups. He gave an example of a bicycle store that wanted to specifically reach female bikers in Atlanta. If your Facebook profile suggests that it fits the mold, the social network focuses on your ads.

"We provide advertisers with reports on the type of people who see their ads and how their ads work, but we do not share personally identifiable information," Goldman said.

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

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