Memo to social networking junkies: In the digital age, there's no such thing as online privacy — especially if you're not paying to remain anonymous to advertisers or other users.
Instagram and Foursquare recently revamped its privacy policies to the ire of consumers. The uproar signals a larger trend: online privacy is becoming a big oxymoron. (Read More: What Instagram's Blunder May Mean for Ad Future.)
Of course there's a natural tension between users and digital products and services trying to make money from their platforms—without charging users fees. A key problem, according to experts, is that Internet users have grown too accustomed to what famed economist Milton Friedman once warned didn't exist: a free lunch.
While users may chafe at what they perceive as unwarranted intrusions into their online data, industry observers said online platforms have the right to use information to their advantage, albeit within clearly defined and posted limits and company policies.
As a result, consumer expectations that websites will altruistically block marketing access to data are unrealistic at best. Turns out free services — for everything from posting mobile photos to location updates — will indeed cost you, in the form of your personal data.
"Free on the Internet almost always means in exchange for your data," said Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington,D.C.-based think tank.