Commonwealth Games are just the ticket for Facebook

Free Wi-Fi will be lousy without a Social Network™ login, which in this of all weeks is just dumb

Facebook may be up to its armpits in alligators, but that hasn't stopped Australia's Gold Coast Council from chumming up with the ad-farm to offer free Wi-Fi to visitors at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The council, which has laid AU$5 million worth of its own broadband fibre backbone, is following a model familiar to cafe and laundromat Wi-Fi: it'll use Faceboook as a sign-in mechanism for the network.

The Commonwealth Games (for US readers, think of it is an Olympics for countries wiling to identify with the vestigial British Empire) run from April 4 to April 15. Visitor forecasts predict 672,000 punters will attend the event.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation today reported that visitors will be offered a lower-capacity connection without tracking, but to get the fastest connection, they'll have to use the Facebook login.

The council's chief innovation officer Ian Hatton promised the council would make only “limited” use of the data harvested via Facebook: personal data won't be shared with other government agencies, and it will only be used to compile reports for the tourism industry.

There's no word on how Facebook will use the data, however. At the very least, The Social Network™ will see when individuals log into the Wi-Fi, along with its usual haul of posts, Likes, and non-Facebook sites visited (if they carry Facebook's cookie).

Since many Facebook add-on apps pull data from other users' apps, the data slurp could well reach far beyond the footprint of users accessing the Commonwealth Games network.

What a week Gold Coast Council chose for this announcement, given that The Social Network™ stands accused of naive indifference - at best - in the Cambridge Analytica affair. ®

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