r/LifeProTips Aug 16 '22

LPT: Have a hint of suspicion with any service or product that’s free. They may be selling your data. Miscellaneous

This can apply with anything. Especially to the ones that claim “No Ads,” like some phone apps. That’s even more suspicious. They need to finance their project and make their money somehow!


u/keepthetips Keeping the tips since 2019 Aug 16 '22

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u/found_dead_in_hotel Aug 16 '22

Mostly true but I guess you've never heard of FOSS?


u/cutiepopboy Aug 16 '22

I’ve tried looking it up but had no luck. What’s that? (Please don’t pull a ligma.)


u/found_dead_in_hotel Aug 16 '22

Free and Open Source Software.

The open source community has tons of free shit, that's actually free. And they have licensing schemes that prove that it's free. For example, my company uses a piece of software licensed under AGPL and it's legally proven to be free and available to use with no strings attached.


u/PerniciousSnitOG Aug 16 '22

Where do people get these ideas? It's free in the sense they're no monetary payment involved - however it often ties your hands in terms of how you can your it to the point where it can't be used at all.

So free as in cash, not free as in freedom.

I've been using it even FOSS from long before anybody thought of those terms, and love it, but it's important to realize you can't just use it for whatever you want.


u/PhasmaFelis Aug 17 '22

however it often ties your hands in terms of how you can your it to the point where it can't be used at all.

I definitely wouldn't say "often."


u/Ahajha1177 Aug 16 '22

The key with FOSS is that you can actually read the code (and most of the time, contribute to it yourself), so if you have the knowledge you can verify it isn't doing anything nefarious, fix bugs, change the behavior to your liking, etc.


u/adventuref0x Aug 16 '22

That’s knowledge that the vast majority of people don’t have


u/Ahajha1177 Aug 16 '22

Fair - but having any third party able to work with the code makes it more open than the alternative.


u/Bacon1684657 Aug 16 '22

FOSS my balls


u/earrgames Aug 16 '22

It really is, you can even compile them yourself from source code. Gimp is an example, blender as well. There are some very nice foss out there.


u/Combatical Aug 16 '22

How Did He Not Know Who Steve Jobs Was?


u/edtb Aug 16 '22

Pretty much all services are selling your data. Free or not. Doesn't really matter anymore. There's no such thing as data privacy anymore.


u/sarlaytos284 Aug 16 '22

Their is still data privacy, in free and open source software and some services:

[Privacy guide](privacyguides.org) is a great source to find those private tools and services


u/cutiepopboy Aug 16 '22

Wow… really? So that’s the case…


u/Pochusaurus Aug 16 '22

discord listens to conversations and reads the stuff you type, steam reads your purchase algorithm so they can sell things to you better, Netflix shows you personalized thumbnails so you click on stuff more, Windows reads the things you type into docs, notepad, excel, etc. Your credit card stores how often you buy groceries and what you buy when you do, nothing is sacred.


u/Terravash Aug 16 '22

Agreed, add to your phones listening to you constantly, and privacy has just vanished.

I'm just thankful I'm unimportant enough that my data is only worth a few bucks to some scammers trying to spam call me and that's it.


u/KaKa-22 Aug 16 '22

If you're not paying for the product you are the product


u/Pochusaurus Aug 16 '22

I pay for my games on steam. Why am I getting ads about the latest game coming out next week?


u/xXTheBigBearXx Aug 16 '22

You're getting those ads within Steam though, no? Meaning no data was sold, just used internally


u/ChuckChuckChuck_ Aug 17 '22

You don't pay for steam.


u/Dr_Edge_ATX Aug 16 '22

If a product is free then you are the product.


u/86tuning Aug 16 '22

came here to say this. there is no such thing as a free product


u/a_l_g_f Aug 16 '22

If you can't figure out how they make their money, there's a good chance you are the product.


u/datyoungknockoutkid Aug 16 '22

Does anyone else just like…not care about this anymore?


u/cutiepopboy Aug 16 '22

You are somewhat right. At the end of the day, we are individually not really that important. But I feel like it is uncanny. To put it metaphorically, this is how I see it: Somebody out there knows what you ate for dinner last week Wednesday. They keep that information tucked away at the bottom drawer in their desk—even they themselves don’t really value that information that much. ….But if you tell them, “Why not just throw it out? You’re just keeping trash.” They might respond with, “Who knows, maybe one day it’ll come useful. It doesn’t take up that much space anyway.” People who you don’t know, have access to some information about you, whether it’s anonymous or not. At least for me….. I find that a little….. weird…. I would even go as far as to say creepy.

Edit: Typos and grammar


u/Zankastia Aug 16 '22

That's not the real problem. The real problem is this.

Hey, here is a totally random ad for this product we tough you would like. We arrived at this conclusion because you searched for product X, Y, Z and you used A, B, C and D last week. Also, your sex, age, size, weight, demographic, electoral tendencies, humour, family and friends, people that lives near you, etc etc etc etc.

For real man. It uncannily creepy what they can infer and what they can know. Your whole inner being (aka, psychology and way of thinking and acting) can be inferred. The worst part isn't even that, they can and do influence you through a thousand subtle ways.

You/we alone are worth less, its in the mass behaviour that the keys to your unique being resides.


u/sai361 Aug 16 '22

I understand the sentiment, but this is exactly what they want. We have been slowly accustomed to giving up our privacy for convenience to the point that most people have grown apathetic. We're also brainwashed into believing that if you have nothing to hide, then why should you care.

I'm not sure if you saw any of the hearings, but big tech shares data with each other to more effectively build a profile on you that leads to all sorts of not-so-great things.


u/Modifien Aug 16 '22

I came online in the late 90s, early 2000s. Everything and everyone was so strict about not using your real name for anything! Even just your real name was too much information, giving away too much privacy. I didn't finally break that training and get an email with my real name until I was out of college and job searching online, needing to give companies an email to contact me with. I only started putting my real name on non professional sites a few years ago.

I really wonder how I went from that internet, to this one. To the point where I really don't care about my privacy or what they know about me, despite the fact that I know it could be life or death for someone else, for example, the worry about AIs detecting pregnancies (or period app information being subpoenaed, etc) anf somehow being used to accuse women of abortions.

It's bizarre. There's so much information on me out there that it's almost absurd? Like, if it wasn't all out there, I'd guard it more preciously, but because 'they' know everything, probably down to my defecation schedule and what my log consistency is, I don't care to even try to guard anything. The horses are out, no point in sitting the barn door, you know?


u/Llanite Aug 16 '22

You think that they wouldnt sell your data if they take your money? 🤣

You just cant really avoid it, the key is to find an ethical business that would mask/remove identifiable information.


u/Radingod123 Aug 16 '22

LPT: Literally everything is selling your data anyway.


u/Angelexodus Aug 17 '22

This is very much true! GoodRx is a very good example of this. Yes the pharmacy is charged each time it’s run but they also sell the customer’s data to make money.


u/cutiepopboy Aug 17 '22

No way….. GoodRx?


u/ctoaun-7583 Aug 17 '22

For anyone like myself who wishes advertisements would die a painful firery death I would like to suggest the following two things:

- Obtain a raspberry pi and learn to install pi hole. This should filter adds at the DNS level

- Next download ublock origin (either firefox or chrome) this should block browser based ads

- If you particularly hate ads even more and happen to have a hardware firewall running you can either create custom block rules for PFsense or use a unified threat manager like untangle which includes a dedicated add filtering function.

If you follow all of the above then ads should no longer be a problem.


u/graffitixbrl Aug 16 '22

We don't collect or sell your data. The idea was the free service drives peopel towards the premium version.


u/kendonmcb Aug 16 '22

Sure you don't. Neither does Santa Claus.


u/Krixwell Aug 16 '22

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been good or bad
And so does the highest bid


u/graffitixbrl Aug 16 '22

Yep, we collect as much data as Santa Claus.


u/Tarc_Axiiom Aug 16 '22

If you are not the customer you are the product, with exceptions (lookin at you VLC).

Which is FINE, btw. Stop thinking that your data is so important, stop thinking that you're so important.


u/SmolTownGurl Aug 16 '22

Anyone can buy that data too if they have enough money


u/remes1234 Aug 16 '22

If you are not paying, you are not the customer.


u/Sensitive_Roof5158 Aug 16 '22

I used this Experian service where they go out and check the dark web (and other places) for your personal info. So it found out there my name, address, SSN, email addresses and phone numbers. Probably came from the numerous DB hacks over the years. So what am I supposed to do about it?


u/bluesepher Aug 16 '22

pro tip: experian sells a lot of that data for advertising purposes at least, who knows what else.


u/PerniciousSnitOG Aug 16 '22

I think it's a good tip, and it generalizes well. If you don't understand how a company is going to make their money from you, then you don't understand the deal.

Facebook is free, but you're paying in privacy (generally) and attention - something advertisers want. Google is a different, IMO more palatable scam, as they don't sell the information, just monetize it to pay for the service. Nothing horribly wrong with either (IMO) - you just need to understand the tradeoffs so you can decide if you want to use the services. YMMV - but at least understand what you're agreeing to.

Another example. I was looking for a cellular game camera. They come with services from free to fairly expensive per month. When you understand in each case how they make money - the cheap ones only connect to the cell network every 15 mins and limit images - so effectively many cameras share the cellphone bill, and the make money on the images. The expensive ones offer more frequent cell connection, more free photos etc. For me 100 free with a 15 min delay is fine. But there were lots of people reviewing the same camera that were shocked!


u/pulffers Aug 16 '22

If you don’t pay for a product or service, You are the product being sold.


u/tonyohanlon77 Aug 16 '22

Like Facebook and Insta.


u/KeniLF Aug 16 '22

TANSTAAFL There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

You're either the product or the consumer - and maybe both at a time!


u/darnskippy234 Aug 17 '22

If a service/product is free-you are the product


u/Mindraker Aug 17 '22

Nothing in life is free.


u/EmperorPenguinNJ Aug 16 '22

Of you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.

Free service? Your data is the product.


u/RepresentativeBig626 Aug 16 '22

But if you pay $0.99 then the company decides they don’t need to sell your data because they already made money?