Many Netizens are trumpeting the fact that many Web-based services are now being offered for free. Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft are at the forefront in providing freebies on the Internet. The most notable of the services that these three giants are providing millions of people with is e-mail addresses.
How Do They Survive?
One might wonder as to what is the catch on all these costless offerings. Surely the companies that offer free cyber “spaces” or virtual mailboxes are spending millions just to keep the accounts up and running. So what do they get in return?
Many e-mail hosts explain that they try to recoup their costs in sponsoring the e-mail accounts by attracting advertisers to their sites. Indeed, ads are very familiar sights on the pages of companies offering free Web services. Some ads may seem benign, appearing as very small and negligible icons. Others can be very evident, such as a banner appearing at the heading of the e-mail page.
Date With Disaster
Web sites for dating and socializing are also mainly offered for free. The most popular of such services include MySpace, Multiply, and Friendster. Millions sign up for accounts on these Web services. Again, the costs of maintaining these sites are financed through earnings from advertisements.
e-mail accounts and social sites are just a few of the many Web services that are being offered without any monetary consideration. While the big names in the industry dominate the market, there are small or not-so-known companies that offer Web-based services that one should be wary about.
It should be noted that when opening an e-mail, dating, and other Web-based accounts, one must provide sensitive details about himself or herself. You might think that giving out your middle name, surname, or birth date is inconsequential or harmless. Indeed, questions asking for the said facts or details are already staples in almost all application forms. However, these details are also the ones that you use in financial and other important transactions. These details can be collated and later on used to the detriment of its owner.
Identity theft or the use of personal information is usually involuntary. These data are usually taken cunningly through scams. However, there are times when these are taken with consent.
Whenever you sign up for Web-based services, you enter into a contract with the provider. As with ordinary contacts, electronic ones are usually written in fine print. Be very cautious when agreeing to the terms and conditions of the service. Many do not read the provisions of the contract as they are often voluminous and littered with terms that only law degree-holders could understand. Among the most dangerous provision therein is the one which allows the provider to use and share the personal information that you’ve provided on the application form.
Nothing good is for free. More often than not, there’s always a catch. Some conditions may be benign, such as allowing advertisers to post their banners on your e-mail account. However, there are also risks. You might inadvertently allow somebody on the Net to use your personal details for purposes that could be very damaging to you or to others. Prudence is a virtue that one must have not only in the real world, but also in the virtual one.
Re-Tweet This Post