Facebook’s new Wi-Fi feature allows users to obtain Internet access for when they are physically in a participating business’s location. From restaurants to coffee shops, boutiques and car dealerships, having the Internet at a customer’s fingertips can be a big selling point! But you may be asking yourself what is the difference between this and us, the business, just giving customers the guest password to our current Internet? And is this even safe for our customers and my business?
What is Facebook Wi-Fi?
Facebook is now offering businesses the opportunity to allow customers to have Internet access in exchange for checking into a business on it’s website. So instead of setting up your own customer Wi-Fi access at your business, you can outsource this service to Facebook.
Is Facebook’s Wi-Fi Free?
Yes and no. Creating a Facebook business Page is free, but obtaining the routers and mobile devices is not. The service, once set-up at your business, is free to use for everyone gaining access.
There are some loopholes business owners have to control people from just using your table space as their private work space all day. Facebook business Page admins have authority over how long a person in your physical location has Wi-Fi access. The session length is set to 5 hours, but you can make it less or higher. From there, how someone obtains Internet access is up to you or them. You can include all of this information in your own Terms of Agreement wording on your business Page dealing with the Wi-Fi service.
What Do I Need to Set Up Facebook’s Wi-Fi?
There are a couple of things you will need prior to having Facebook’s free Wi-Fi service up and running. The first is a business Page on Facebook with a physical address listed in the Page Info. You will also need to be the administrator, or at least have administrator access, to this business page.
Additionally you will need a Facebook Wi-Fi compatible router and a mobile phone.
From there, set-up is relatively easy. Follow the instructions provided by Facebook to finalize the service.
Why Should I Use Facebook Wi-Fi for My Business?
There are some benefits to business owners for having Facebook’s Wi-Fi service available to their customers.
- Since customers will have to check-in to your business to obtain the free access from their personal Facebook profile, their friends, family, whoever on Facebook will see where they are. However, browser landing pages will include a link that people can use to skip the check-in process and they can enter a code instead. This is a nice alternative for users who do not prefer to use the check-in method so their profile and location are kept private.
- Businesses can potentially receive more likes from customers using the free Facebook Wi-Fi service simply because they are already on Facebook, at your location and may just hit the like button because of the free service. This isn’t guaranteed though.
- Businesses gain access to real-time demographic data of users on the Facebook Wi-Fi such as age, gender, and interests of customers. This could be valuable information when it comes to selling to certain demographics.
- Participating businesses will be listed in Facebook’s Wi-Fi directory which could potentially help bring a customer to your business instead of another one that doesn’t offer this free service.
- No more changing the guest Internet service password constantly to try to avoid hackers and spammers from entering your system.
Is This Service Safe?
Being on the Internet comes with safety concerns. Being on a personal device on a network that is not secure is also a major concern. Privacy is always a top priority for Facebook, so that is why they allow the code check-in option versus the traditional check-in option. However, the Find Wi-Fi feature on Facebook requires users to enable Location services on their device. This feature has to be turned to “always on” which seems to be a major concern for many users. Facebook has said that through their design of this service, once a user checks in on Facebook, through Facebook Wi-Fi, Facebook then hands the user back to the router and completely steps out of the picture. This means that any Internet browsing done once on Facebook’s Wi-Fi is completely outside of Facebook’s network.
So while Facebook is washing their hands of eagle eyeing everything you do on their Wi-Fi connection, that doesn’t mean the connection at the business is providing a secure connection. We recommend all users and businesses to use your best judgement when using free Wi-Fi services and research using a VPN if using Internet like this is something you do often.
Take it for what it is worth. Free Internet is free Internet. But in the long run, businesses will need to consider many factors before jumping on this bandwagon. Plus, let’s think about just how many times you have been talking to someone about a particular product, then jump on Facebook and BAM! There is that product advertised on your Facebook wall. More times than you’d like we are sure. Whether this is a way for Facebook to track your customer’s interests better or see where in the world your business and customers are, who knows, but free Wi-Fi is free Wi-Fi to a lot of people.