Should Facebook charge for privacy?

If Facebook charged fees for its service, would it do a better job of protecting user privacy? At least one Web CEO thinks so.

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Like ZoomInfo, Pipl, and a dozen others, MyLife is a people search engine; its particular niche is that it also tells you who's been searching for you. Looking for that long-lost high school hottie? MyLife can help you find him/her or tell you if he/she has been looking for you. (That's the idea anyway; more on how MyLife actually works in a future post.)

A subscription plan might also give Facebook reasons to provide better customer support. As it is, good luck reaching a human when you have a problem with your Facebook account. The best you can do is send an email to a generic email address and hope somebody gets back to you.

That's not unusual when a service is 100 percent free. Tech support is expensive. But if you paid, say, $5 a month, Facebook might have the funds (and the need) to put more bodies on that problem.

Tinsley isn't advocating a complete paywall for Facebook, but a "freemium" model -- so you might get status updates and Wall posts for free, but if you want to play Farmville or take quizzes it'll cost you. Or maybe Facebook could limit on the number of friends you can claim, updates you can post, etc., for free.  The number and types of free/pay models is virtually endless.

Does the idea of paying for Facebook strike you as insane? It shouldn't. As Rob Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group notes, one way or another you end up paying for "free" services like Facebook.

“If you don't know what's funding your service, there's a good chance your information is,” he says. “You're a lot safer if you know the fee structure of the service. If you've got a choice between a nominally priced service and a free one, you're taking less of a risk with the fee-based one.”

Would you be willing to pay for Facebook? And if so, for what and how much? Post your thoughts below or write to me at dan(at)dantynan(dot)com. I might share your thoughts in a future blog post (with your permission, of course).

ITworld blogger Dan Tynan would pay other Facebook users to stop playing Farmville/Petville/FrontierVille etc -- or at least, quit publishing how many damned sheep they now own. Catch his brand of juvenile-infused humor at eSarcasm and follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. 

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