Mike Elgan, back in February 2009:
Google makes billions of dollars in revenue each fiscal quarter. That money comes about by the same process that all companies use: They sell a product to their customers. Their customers pay money for that product.
Who’s Google’s customer? You? Really? When’s the last time you paid Google for anything?
Advertisers are Google’s customer. What do they sell to advertisers? They sell you. Or, at least, they rent you out, or provide access to you.
He wrote this in the context of the then-new Google Latitude. It seems more apt than ever today.
Google and Facebook, no matter how friendly they appear to the user, only make money off of the access you provide. So when it comes down to a choice between screwing their users or screwing the advertiser, they will chose to screw the user.
Because they get their money from the advertiser, not the user.