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For years, Facebook has been cutting deals with telecom carriers in developing countries like India and the Philippines to offer free Facebook access to cellphone customers using simple phones with no data plans.Now, for the first time, Americans will be able to get free Facebook, too, even if they don’t have a mobile data plan.

In January, GoSmart Mobile, a little-known low-cost prepaid service from T-Mobile US, will begin bundling free access to Facebook’s social network  and instant-messaging service with all of its mobile plans, including a basic $25-a-month unlimited voice plan. The service is primarily aimed at smartphones that run Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android software, but it will also work on the cheaper, more basic devices known as feature phones.

For GoSmart, which is sold primarily through independent shops in urban areas, free Facebook is a way to differentiate itself from other prepaid cellular brands – including the more upscale offerings that T-Mobile sells under its own brand and through its MetroPCS unit.”This is something that no one else is offering in the United States,” Gavin Dillon, T-Mobile’s vice president of partner brands, said in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s really about providing more value for GoSmart’s cost .conscious customers.”As in other markets, the free taste of Facebook, including access to videos and other multimedia content embedded in the service, could also persuade some GoSmart customers to upgrade to plans that include data.For Facebook, which has 1.2 billion users worldwide, the benefits are less clear.

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Internet users may face more privacy threats

Someone is quietly profiling your every move online: snooping around what you tweet or scribble on FB or even scanning your emails to friends and family. If that sounds suspiciously close to stalking, marketers have a more polite name for the practice: mapping.

While not a new phenomenon in India, it has become more critical given the growing importance of social media marketing and increasing numbers of internet users. Chances are it could intensify in 2014. Marketers, who were earlier scratching the surface of social media marketing, are now peeling back the layers for a more nuanced understanding of people and their behaviour on the internet. Some of the leading players in the space in India include Google, Yahoo, Vizury, Ozone Media, and Tyroo.

“Mapping happens on two levels. One, when the surfer browses through various websites without logging in. In that case one monitors the time spent, type of content consumed, frequency of visit and so on. A pattern can be drawn through that,” says Atul Hegde, Chief Executive Officer, Ignitee Digital Services.

In the case of blogs or email, the identification cues are more specific: by location, gender and age. But in a bid to map online consumers are marketers crossing the line between mapping and stalking? Most tools and applications used to collect such data are privacy-invasive software and some of the most prominent ones are adware which can potentially host content hijacking programmes.