We are cheap bastards, the lot of us. We don't want to pay for content. The New York Times puts up a pay wall that's leaky by design, so nonpaying readers can share stories they like with other people and articles pop up telling people how to take advantage to read all the newspaper online for free. The underlying conceit being that if you can get it all for free, no matter how valuable it is to you, you're a sucker if you actually pay.
But if we won't pay with cash to see stuff we like, there are other ways that publishers and marketers can extract value from our attention: By turning us into advertisements.
The latest experiment in micro-monetization is putting a "Like wall" between readers and content. The New Yorker tried a single-article trial last week for nonpaying readers; it made an essay by Jonathan Franzen available for "free" to those who would "Like" the magazine on Facebook. As Mashable notes, Self Magazine, Jennifer Lopez, and Lil Wayne have also put content behind Like walls
There are other pieces of content like this. Electronics manufacturer Denon is coming out with new models. The company promises Facebook users a peek at the new gear, but only if they "Like" Denon's page. The reputation site Honestly.com has an A/B test running (in other words, not all users see it), where registered users don't see their own ratings until they "Like" the site.
The idea, in these and other tests, is obviously to get people to tacitly recommend products on Facebook, in exchange for access to the online services. In some cases (like Denon), users are asked to Like something without fully knowing what it is. Call it the clueless vouch.
It's got to stop, for two reasons.
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