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Facebook and Cisco Offer Check-In Service For Free Wifi

timothy posted about a year ago | from the if-the-trade-makes-sense dept.

Networking 67

cagraham writes "According to TechCrunch, Facebook and Cisco are now expanding their joint "Facebook Wifi" program nationwide. The service directs customers who connect to a store's wifi to a landing page where they are encouraged to "check-in" to the business in order to be connected. While users can currently opt out of this and still be connected, the "skip this" button is noticeably difficult to find. The free software integrates with businesses existing routers and providers. Facebook provides reports to participating businesses as well, complete with anonymized aggregate data on the demographics of the customers who checked-in."

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Congratulations (4, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#45025533)

"Congratulations, we'll give you a service that lots of people offer for free,as long as you earn us money!" - Facebook

Re:Congratulations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45025975)

It isn't facebook saying that, it's the owner of the coffee shop saying that. This is how a market economy works. If this is really onerous to patrons, they'll make that known. If you don't like your local coffee shop doing this, then patronize another business who doesn't make you login with facebook, and let them know why.

Re:Congratulations (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45031197)

This would be fine if there were coffee shops other than Starbucks around.

At most of the places I've been, there's at best two alternatives to SBUX, frequently only one, and not that conveniently located or having poor hours. Panera Bread seems to be their biggest competitor these days in fact, and that isn't really supposed to be a "coffee shop".

Re:Congratulations (1)

gmanterry (1141623) | about a year ago | (#45040081)

I find it annoying that because I reject Facebook, there are web sites I can't log onto. I guess this means there will be places where I will be denied WiFi because I reject Facebook.

Re:Congratulations (1)

slash.jit (2893213) | about a year ago | (#45026883)

Facebook and Google taking their Hunger Games to next level on how to get more and more data about people, games sponsored by NSA.

Voluntary (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#45025565)

At least they don't check you in automatically. Though I'm sure that's next.

Re:Voluntary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45026741)

'Relax' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

Re:Voluntary (1)

skids (119237) | about a year ago | (#45028229)

Though I'm sure that's next.

It's called 802.11u. Though really how evil it is is entirely up to the people who write the UI for it. dot11u in and of itself is a plausibly useful and beneficial technology.

If you wait for their next move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45028717)

Who's going to write an app that auto-feeds those things the right noises so you don't even notice they're meddling with your "intarwebtubes experience"?

I mean, I will need wifi for imap/s and tunnels and things. The internet isn't made up entirely out of world wide webpages, you know.

Hey, look (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45025571)

Facebook or google pretending they are the internet again. Sorry to any of you that enjoyed the days where there were more than 2 websites.

Re:Hey, look (3, Funny)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#45025625)

Facebook or google pretending they are the internet again. Sorry to any of you that enjoyed the days where there were more than 2 websites.

Well, not quite. It would be the merchants who offer "free" wifi with this (so far) optional "service" that think so. The wifi still works, for now. When you can't get to anything without having a Facebook account with which to surrender your privacy, then we have a problem. "Look, barrista-dude. I bought your damn coffee and an overpriced stale pastry. Now I just want to check my stocks and no, I do not have a Facebook account."

Re:Hey, look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45025651)

Well, not quite. It would be the merchants who offer "free" wifi with this (so far) optional "service" that think so. The wifi still works, for now. When you can't get to anything without having a Facebook account with which to surrender your privacy, then we have a problem. "Look, barrista-dude. I bought your damn coffee and an overpriced stale pastry. Now I just want to check my stocks and no, I do not have a Facebook account."

The solution is to not buy the coffee. If a big chain does this, doesn't even bother patronizing them anymore. It's the only way they'll possibly listen. Save your money or go somewhere else that treats you with respect.

Re:Hey, look (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45031213)

If a big chain does this,

There's only one big chain in existence: Starbucks.

Re:Hey, look (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45025653)

There will be overpriced, stale pastry mongers who will offer something that isn't. Competition is good.

Or you could brew your own coffee...imagine that! It's hot water and ground beans, not rocket science!

Re:Hey, look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45026063)

Instructions unclear, pinto beans are not tasty in hot water.

Re:Hey, look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027241)

Actually, my wife makes a mean soup that has pinto beans in it.

Let me get this straight... (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45025705)

You mean that if I use internet provided by a business, that my browsing activity might be monitored?

Color me shocked.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45026149)

You mean that if I use internet provided by a business, that my browsing activity might be monitored?

Even better, many business guest wifi networks use an unsigned SSL certificate, and many users are conditioned to just click ok.

This is a handy way to steal facebook credentials!

Re:Let me get this straight... (3, Interesting)

gsslay (807818) | about a year ago | (#45026567)

You've missed the point. This is for businesses that not only may monitor your wifi connection, but also demand that you advertise their business to all your facebook "friends" before they'll let you use it.

This is just one more way that facebook is enabling businesses to worm their way into your online life. Next step is to give the business you "checked in" with access to your profile data, so next time you're in their shop using their wifi, they can serve up their adverts targeted at you. Are you ready for creepy stalker adverts that know where you are, and what you should be buying there? Are you ready for those adverts appearing on the shop menu, visible to all? It's going to happen.

Don't want to use their wifi? How about if they gave discounts that can only be accessed through your facebook account while you're ordering your coffee? How about when those discounts become the de-facto actual price, and the usual price is more of a non-facebook excess fee? Still going to be the refusenik?

Companies would argue that this is all about knowing you better, to better give you what you want. But I say this is handing over to them every advantage the customer ever had in the transaction.

Re:Let me get this straight... (2)

Kalriath (849904) | about a year ago | (#45028315)

When you share the check-in, change the privacy settings on the post to "Only Me". Then no-one but you and the application that thinks you posted it know it even existed.

I also encourage this for fucking Facebook games that insist on spamming your friends list once every 32 seconds.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45028707)

The "friend" advertising is only part of the picture here.

Facebook is also very hungry for data about what its users do in the off-line world. Add real-world shopping habits to what they've already aggregated about you via your "likes", etc, and your profile data becomes more valuable, even if it's set to "Only Me [and Facebook, and their partners]"

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45031231)

When you share the check-in, change the privacy settings on the post to "Only Me".

You really think Facebook is going to continue to allow this? FB is famous for screwing with privacy settings and not honoring them.

Re: Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45026935)

You mean that if I use internet provided by a business, that my browsing activity might be monitored?

The whole "you have no privacy if you're using someone else's stuff" argument doesn't fly. Reasonable expectation of privacy still applies. They can't put hidden cameras in the bathroom, and likewise they shouldn't be permitted to spy on your internet usage.

That said, this is an entirely different scenario. They aren't spying, they're just asking for information, which you're free to provide. Or not, if you don't want to.

And if you don't comply.. (2)

2phar (137027) | about a year ago | (#45025807)

We'll check you in anyway [latimes.com]

Re:And if you don't comply.. (1)

number17 (952777) | about a year ago | (#45026317)

To use the app, people first have to sign up. The app will then work with users to verify pictures of them to get a better reading of their face.

Pure stalker creepy. Setup a profile on behalf of another and have somebody else do the tracking work for you.

Re:And if you don't comply.. (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45032089)

I used to wear a nice wide-brimmed fedora. (I left it on a plane and haven't bought another.) It may be time to start [rt.com] wearing one again.

.

Second FB account? (2)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year ago | (#45025823)

Couldn't one just register a second Facebook account and use that for the check-ins? I don't really care if Facebook knows where "Bob Smith" has gone.

Re:Second FB account? (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about a year ago | (#45025913)

Isn't that against their TOS?

Re:Second FB account? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#45031215)

I don't really care if Facebook knows where "Bob Smith" has gone.

That would be an EULA violation citizen. Ten years hard time on the chain gang at minimum.

You Check In, Your Stuff Checks Out (4, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45025849)

I bet career criminals love this new-ish trend of people voluntarily letting the world know when they are away from their homes and valuables.

Jim's Facebook Timeline -

8/17: Jim bought the newest 80" 3D flatscreen, here's a picture of it in the living room! WOW what a big picture!

9/23: Jim just got a new gold iPhone 5s! FTW!!!

9/28: Jim posted 264 photos taken with his Canon DSLR

10/1: Jim checked in at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to use their wifi! Hello World!

10/1: Jim just found out that while he was at BB&B this morning, somebody cleaned him out! Sad panda :(

Re:You Check In, Your Stuff Checks Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45026607)

how is this interesting? This was a news 4 years ago. STFU already you twat.

And... (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about a year ago | (#45025857)

I would use this instead of the mobile data I already pay for because...?

Re:And... (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about a year ago | (#45025951)

I would use this instead of the mobile data I already pay for because...?

...Because of the absurd costs for mobile data plans and their overages make using "free" wifi a lot more appealing to those who can't curb their need for their constant internet fix.

Re: And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027025)

I would use this instead of the mobile data I already pay for because...

I'm not a sucker who pays exorbitant prices for unlimited mobile data plans.

Tethering surcharge (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45027223)

Because you can use a laptop without having to pay for tethering on top of what you already pay for mobile data.

Re:Tethering surcharge (1)

korgitser (1809018) | about a year ago | (#45031139)

What do you mean, paying for tethering?

Re:Tethering surcharge (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45034623)

United States wireless customers have allowed their market to become screwed up. They let U.S. carriers get away with charging more if they detect that a PC is using the connection. Carriers may have various ways of detecting this, such as deep packet inspection of HTTP headers for HTTP user agent header values associated with browsers designed for PC operating systems, deep packet inspection of HTTP headers for content types commonly associated with PCs (such as Flash, Java, and Windows executables), DNS requests for hosts associated with PC operating systems' update mechanisms, and others I can't think of at the moment.

Re:Tethering surcharge (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about a year ago | (#45034509)

Who would pay for tethering?! It's the same data!

This plug-in is not supported (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45034635)

It's not the same data. A mobile device won't be viewing SWF animations or downloading Windows service packs.

Re:This plug-in is not supported (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about a year ago | (#45035211)

So? Data is data no matter what file type. If I pay for, for example, 5GB I can use it for whatever I want.

Oversubscription (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45035807)

If I pay for, for example, 5GB I can use it for whatever I want.

U.S. wireless carriers rely on oversubscription. If a carrier sells a smartphone data plan with a 5 GB capacity, it relies on most subscribers underusing that 5 GB, not pushing the connection to within 2% of their cap every month like PC users are more apt to.

Re:Oversubscription (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about a year ago | (#45037655)

- I'm not in the US - I don't care what carriers do as long as I get what I pay for

Great way to get robbed (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year ago | (#45025937)

You check in and people automatically know that you're not home. Brilliant. On the other hand, wi-fi is not as useful to me as it once was. The 4G speeds I get seem to be just as fast, or faster, than any wi-fi connection. Plus, I've got at least some security with 4G. No thanks Facebook. Take your "free" wi-fi and stick it where the sun don't shine :-)

Re:Great way to get robbed (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45026053)

Consider it a service to help you avoid being shot and killed during the robbery when the robber mistakenly thinks you're out because you have the lights off but doesn't have FB to verify.

Re:Great way to get robbed (1)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about a year ago | (#45026765)

That would be fine if you live alone. Otherwise you are exposing your spouse and children to harm if they are home and you are not. If you want to let FB handle your home security that's your business. I prefer to handle it myself.

Re:Great way to get robbed (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45031263)

4G is decent when it's working, the problem is that it's frequently not available indoors: many buildings are "dead zones". I frequently see this on my TMo phone; the 4G will drop off inside large buildings (such as a big-box store), even though regular voice service still works. The in-store WiFi, inside Target for instance, makes up for this since I can use that instead when I'm comparing prices.

Difficult to find? (3, Informative)

twocows (1216842) | about a year ago | (#45025949)

Difficult to find? Hardly. I'm all for faulting Facebook when it's deserved, but the "skip check-in" link is in plain sight (link [wordpress.com] ).

Re:Difficult to find? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45033475)

'Check in for free Internet Access' or 'Skip check-in'.

Do I receive free Internet access if I skip? People will waver; it is deliberately ambiguous.

How do they do that? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45026109)

On iOS, trying to connect to a captive portal pops a limited version of Safari (no cookies, etc) and on Android and other systems, AFAIK you need to manually open a browser to see the login page.

If you try to connect to a free wifi to only check your email or play an online game, it just doesn't work.

Is there any way to tell a device "Open a browser and load this URL" when they connect to a wifi?

Re:How do they do that? (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45026347)

On Android, I use WiFi Web Login

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.uk.syslynx.wifiwebloginapp&hl=en [google.com]

Teach it how to click "no thanks, just log me in" and off you go.

Re: How do they do that? (1)

colinnwn (677715) | about a year ago | (#45029891)

Upvote since I don't have mod points. I use and love it. Though it may have increased battery draw, I haven't fully diagnosed it yet. The other version I found in Play store was ugly, not well translated, and not 100 pct reliable.

Re:How do they do that? (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#45026391)

A lot of people think the Internet is http/https only, and Facebook stands to gain from perpetuating that myth. IMAP doesn't let them display ads.

Re: How do they do that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027139)

iOS detects when your HTTP traffic is being redirected (to a login page) and realises that it needs to open the browser to let you log in.

How? Simple... just try to ping a known website (like apple.com). If it fails, pop up the browser. Same as the "limited or no connectivity" warning you may get in Windows, but with a little extra logic built-in. (Actually, iirc Windows 7 actually will suggest that you may need to open your browser to log in when it detects limited or no connectivity on a WiFi network.)

Re: How do they do that? (1)

skids (119237) | about a year ago | (#45028429)

just try to ping a known website (like apple.com).

Actually you have to do an HTTP GET because ICMP might be blocked while web is permitted. And this is a cheezy way to do things, since it makes the thing look broken if local policy doesn't allow access to apple.com or whatever site you use, or if that particular site crashes (which happened with hilarious consequences a couple years ago IIRC.) Anyway throwing up an OS wrapper around portal login pages was fairly evil. The're designed to work from a browser, just let them work.

Re: How do they do that? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45028899)

Yes they're designed to work from a browser, but just because you want to connect to a wi-fi doesn't mean you're going to use a browser. That was my question, is there a way for the wireless hardware to force a browser to open on the device when it connects to it?

Really anonymous? (1)

mattr (78516) | about a year ago | (#45026241)

Not anonymous if you are the only person that day perhaps

Ill just use my 4G (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about a year ago | (#45026683)

Why connect to a free and often slow/overloaded wifi when most people get acceptable 3/4G service around town ? If you have a laptop and you have to get that paper submitted most people just goto a starbucks or McD's.

"May I tether to your phone?" "Go away, expletive" (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45027295)

Why connect to a free and often slow/overloaded wifi when most people get acceptable 3/4G service around town ?

Because not everybody is willing to pay hundreds of dollars per year for 3/4G, and some people are too shy to ask random individuals to let them tether to their device.

Re:"May I tether to your phone?" "Go away, expleti (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45030375)

get a job you damn hippy :)
also do you really need wifi access at the mall? and mall!! who buys stuff in person anymore
i jest mostly...

Hundreds more per year (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45034977)

get a job you damn hippy :)

I have a job. It doesn't pay as much as I'd want. Internet at home already costs me hundreds of dollars per year; why should I pay hundreds more for Internet away from home? I can't just drop Internet at home and use mobile Internet while at home because my usage pattern on one device alone would exceed the typical 5 GB per month cap for Internet away from home.

also do you really need wifi access at the mall?

Occasionally I do while waiting for public transit. And only recently did I discover the hotspot inside the Barnes and Noble store.

and mall!! who buys stuff in person anymore

People who don't want to have to pay return shipping for something that doesn't fit [pineight.com] , be it clothes or a computer keyboard.

Re:Ill just use my 4G (1)

huge (52607) | about a year ago | (#45035153)

Why connect to a free and often slow/overloaded wifi when most people get acceptable 3/4G service around town ?

Because my "service provider" charges me my first born son for roaming data.

FaceBook moving into the 'real world' (0)

Rafał Łoś (3361257) | about a year ago | (#45026763)

This, my friends, is where FaceBook starts to actually gain value as a business. I know the comments so far have been snarky - and yes many businesses already provide this for 'free' - but if the end-user experience is consistent this could be fantastic. Hell, if you're using 4Square why not? Before you go into the whole privacy rant remember that you're probably leaving more than enough breadcrumbs and digital fingerprints for someone to track you - telling them where you shop or what places you frequent ...may or not be of concern. Personally, I think this is a good thing as it could bring consistency to "free WiFi", and improve the experience for the masses. There, I said it.

AC is proud (1)

CodeReign (2426810) | about a year ago | (#45027317)

AC is now the proud owner of facebookwifinetwork.com and facebook-wifi-network.com.

Re:AC is proud (1)

CodeReign (2426810) | about a year ago | (#45027333)

I completely forgot to click the "Post Anonymously" button -.-

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45027803)

As long as it doesn't turn the oxygen off in the room I think I'll be ok for a while without wifi.

Oxymoron alert (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year ago | (#45029045)

the "skip this" button is noticeably difficult to find.

Haha, love it.

Not new (1)

tapi0 (2805569) | about a year ago | (#45030053)

Not really a new idea, using facebook likes or check-ins to allow wifi access has been a feature of many captive portals for a while now.
see http://www.recaptive.net/features/facebookgate/ [recaptive.net] , http://www.cloud4wi.com/social-login [cloud4wi.com] to name two off the top of my head.

The only thing now is that facebook is providing a direct authentication return to the access point, currently cisco and Meraki (not mentioned in the summary) and no doubt coming to Aerohive, Aruba etc very soon . They're just making it easier to configure without a third party or your own coding. The only thing is that then is your only social login mechanism, most social login providers give the option of the major players (google, facebook, twitter etc) and some internal mechanism. so a retrograde step

all the comments above speculating on capturing demographic data, posting or checking in on your behalf etc is moot - it's already available and being used effectively

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