Facebook Offers Free WiFi To Businesses Through New Program

October 8, 2013  |  

If you are a small business owner you may be able to get free WiFi for your customers through a new program at Facebook.

WiFi.Facebook and Cisco have announced a partnership that offers free WiFi to customers if they check in to a business on Facebook. But there is a catch: The business is then able to access anonymous data from their customers’ Facebook accounts, which they say will allow them to better understand their target audiences, and potentially run more ads on Facebook.

Developed by Meraki, a small cloud-based WiFi based company acquired by Cisco in 2012, the program gives Facebook access to small-business ad revenue, while giving businesses the opportunity to understand their audience better, connect Cisco to a growing mobile audience, plus keep customers connected to WiFi (and their online friends), reports the Christian Science Monitor

Many are worried about their privacy with this new WiFi option. But, says Facebook, it will not track customers’ online activity or individual information. The businesses, however, will cull general demographic information such as age, gender, location, and interests.The head of Facebook’s WiFi initiative, Eric Tseng, told TechCrunch previously that customers will have the option to keep their check-ins private, and set up an automatic check-in for frequently visited locales.The program has been field-tested with 25 businesses in the San Francisco area that saw their check-in rate jump three times the normal amount. Currently, the program is open to any business that uses Cisco as their WiFi router.

There have been other Facebook developments. The social network also announced a change to its new Home app. It will now include posts from Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram. “Facebook Home is an app that sets Facebook content and navigation to your smart phone’s home screen. Now, users can set the home screen to show posts from any of the above social networks, with the ability to quickly share that content to their Facebook timeline,” reports CSM.  Right now it is available on Facebook for Android Beta.

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