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Virtual Revolution episode three - The Cost of Free

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Dan Biddle Dan Biddle | 16:23 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

The third episode of Virtual Revolution is called The Cost of Free - and it's not as oxymoronic as you think. The Cost of Free examines the trades made online by users of the web as they share their thoughts, their preferences, their curiosities and their desires with the many search engines, services and media which appear to be delivering information online for free.

Jo Wade, Assistant Producer for programme three, highlights these issues in her article on BBC Technology News today:

'Every day in Britain millions of searches are carried out on Google for free. Every month we spend millions of hours on Facebook for free and read millions of articles from free newspapers.

But now look at it the other way round.

Every day Google gathers millions of search terms that help them refine their search system and give them a direct marketing bonanza that they keep for months.

Every week Facebook receives millions of highly personal status updates that are kept forever and are forming the basis of direct advertising revenue.

Every month free newspapers plant and track a cookie tracking device on your computer that tells them what your range of interests are and allows them to shape their adverts and in the future, even content around you.

So you're not just being watched, you're being traded. The currency has changed.'

Presenter Aleks Krotoski, offered her thoughts on the cost of the e-ticket on our blog early in the production process; on the show she discusses the potential price we may be paying for free with web practitioners and experts such as Chris Anderson, Chad Hurley (founder of YouTube), Dana Boyd, John Battelle, Sherry Turkle and many more. You can watch, embed, download longer rushes clips of those interviews on our site.

So what does this mean for privacy? How much do you know about the deals you may be making with your data? Enjoy the programme and let us know what you think in the comments below.
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