First, I think it’s pretty clear that websites can do whatever the heck they want to, within legal limits. That’s how a free market works. If you don’t like the requirements that are placed on getting something, then don’t get that something. If enough people agree with you, then that site will not get whatever it was they were hoping to get by giving away whatever it was they were giving away.
Is it fair? Gosh, that’s an unanswerable question; I really don’t know.
Life isn’t fair, and particularly when it comes to the internet, I guess I just don’t look for fair. If it’s really a no-strings-attached kind of giveaway, fantastic. But if it isn’t, I make a decision and I get on with my life. Like I said, that puts you in control.
To be honest, free is rarely free. There’s an economics principle that I learned years ago when I was required to take ECON 101 or something like that. TANSTAAFL. It’s an acronym for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.
Sometimes you have to give up an email address; sometimes you have to have a Facebook account; sometimes you have to look at ads; and sometimes there are other things from completely benign to truly annoying. Bottom line: if you don’t like it, leave the site.
I do not believe that Facebook or Google is paying anyone to force their sevices to be used. I certainly have never seen or heard of such a thing. Typically, website owners that have a giveaway like this will use Facebook or Google for one of two reasons:
- It’s an easy way for the person offering free things to stay in touch with you, since it doesn’t require them to set up any complicated registration.
- It’s an easy way for them to encourage you to share whatever it is they have to offer on one of those social media sites.
That’s really all that I think is at play here. It’s a business decision. Whether it’s a good business decision or a bad one is a different discussion. Personally, I probably would go the other way, but I could see arguments for it being the right decision as well. It depends on what they are trying to accomplish with their giveaway.
But don’t think for a second that there isn’t some kind of business rationale behind what they’re attempting to do.
I don’t know if it’s fair. I don’t really know what “fair” means in a context like this; but ultimately, no, it doesn’t bother me. If the requirements are too high to get something for free, well, then I don’t get it because it’s not really free. I just move on with my life.