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The idea of offering people free Wi-Fi in exchange for their physical coordinates began at Facebook as a one-off experiment, a project by two engineers during an all-nighter in May 2012. Since then, Facebook has gradually spread what it now calls “Facebook Wi-Fi” further and further beyond the company’s corporate walls, deploying the system to cafes in Palo Alto and San Francisco and even into a line of routers made by Cisco.
The growth of Facebook’s free internet offering underscores the extent to which the social network is trying to vacuum up more and more information about its members, including their physical movements, and how valuable such data has become in selling advertising.
Intended for use in businesses like cafes, Facebook Wi-Fi asks users to “check in” at the business location using their Facebook account. Once they do, or once they click a small opt-out link, they are granted wireless internet access.Facebook Extending Free WiFi Experiment To Extract More User Statistics [wired.com]