Remember: We GET to Use Facebook for FREE!

May 4, 2012   //   by Raylene   //   Blog, Facebook  //  1 Comment

Programs and Platforms abound in the internet world, from WordPress, Photobucket, Twitter, Online forums, to anything you see in a webpage anywhere on the internet. All of those programs have to LIVE somewhere, and they live on servers, special computers made to hold the programs that run the webpages. We say they are “hosted on servers”.

facebook is freeFacebook is a membership type website, with 901 million monthly users worldwide, and we are all able to join for FREE! Facebook, like any other website, is a running program, hosted on a server somewhere (several servers, to be exact). Basic Facebook USE is free, but there are guidelines around how the service is to be used. It’s important to remember: people and businesses use Facebook, but we don’t own it, operate it, or maintain it. It takes a certain amount of technical infrastructure behind the scenes to run all the things that make Facebook function as we see it on the screen – storage space, bandwidth on the internet connections, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t know one iota about.

a basic internet diagram

What I do know is that with 900 million users, there has to be a TON of stuff happening behind the scenes with Facebook that we can’t see, just to keep the website from crashing. Take those 900 million users and add all the pages that they represent, plus all the developers with their various applications. The amount of storage alone for all of that is astronomical, without the other details.

All of those things cost money to provide – and Facebook is STILL a free service. In order to limit their costs to ONLY the basic system of Facebook, the platform is set up so that it doesn’t let you put applications and various other kinds of content onto their servers. ONLY the basic functions of Facebook (photos, status updates, links, etc.) are actually attached to Facebook.

THAT is why, according to Facebook Promotional Guidelines, you’re not allowed to use Facebook features or functionality for your contests. Imagine the load that it would put on the system with all of those contests requiring comments, uploaded photos, checking in, etc…

And Facebook monitors EVERYTHING, so no matter how big or small your Page is, you can be sure they WILL know if your contest or Page is using the system improperly.

SO, how does all that other stuff show up? The contests and welcome pages you see, the games everyone plays, the quizzes and everything else – they are all just showing up through little WINDOWS (or iFrames, as well call them) placed throughout our Facebook pages. These applications are made to be completely integrated with the Facebook system, and to interact seamlessly within Facebook, but aren’t directly attached to the infrastructure of Facebook. All of these 3rd party applications are hosted on other servers and are simply projected into Facebook. This allows all those ‘extras’ to run IN Facebook, and be a part of the Facebook experience, without taxing the Facebook system. The parties interested in having these ‘extras’ run in Facebook have to take care of their own servers and technical infrastructure.  Does that make sense?

Free FBI think it’s also important to remember that Facebook is free to change their platform (the look, feel, and functionality of the site) as they see fit, when they choose, and to charge for services that any business would naturally charge for. See my Side Note on the post about Facebook Timeline Cover Photo Restrictions for more thoughts on business use of Facebook in general.

We get to use Facebook for FREE, and that really is pretty awesome when you stop to think about it!

1 Comment

  • Really great way to put it in everyday language, and make it easier for people to have a little more respect for what 900 million people just take for granted.

    If more users could have a glimpse into all the hidden infrastructure to simply keep Facebook (or any other free platform, or even widgets/plugins for websites, or shareware) then maybe there would be less complaining about the Ts and Cs not being fair, or that Facebook is just money-grubbing by “forcing” businesses/fan pages to buy ads.

    Thanks for a very useful post!

    Angelique Duffield

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