Not on "always free" Facebook? Priceless



One sucker to another, you should not buy stock in Facebook after the breathlessly awaited initial public offering of stock, or IPO.

Do not invest in IPOs. The insiders have already scored big and probably cashed out. If you must, buy a few shares, get the certificate, frame it, and put it on a wall or give it to your children or grandchildren as a memento of the doomed days in which we live.

I got on Facebook for the usual and only partially true reasons that fogies always give: to get photos of my children and, as a professional media person, to see how it works. If you're gonna write about it you gotta know something about it first hand. Having experienced it now, if I were younger I would probably be all over it because it looks like fun. But when I kept getting a list of "suggested friends" that included at least two dead people, I got the message.

If you think monetizing newspaper articles is a slippery slope — and I do — then monetizing the personal information users share on Facebook is a greasy slope indeed. And make no mistake, monetizing is what Facebook must do as a public company.

From the Wall Street Journal Thursday comes news of a Facebook service called Highlight that makes users pay to have their posts show up. This despite Facebook's long-standing pledge on its home page, that the site is "free and always will be."

The Journal quotes a user in New Zealand saying she wasn't sold on paying to make sure her 250 friends see her updates: "I just don't know if anything I would be saying would be important enough to make me want to pay NZ$2 for it," she said.

Actually, I can think of some people I would pay to NOT get their updates or comments, if you get my drift, but that is another story.

This week, General Motors announced that it is not going to spend its ad budget on Facebook. As someone once said, what's good for General Motors is good for the country. And you.

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