Facebook aims to make the Internet a healthier place with free anti-virus downloads

Facebook AV marketplace offers free anti virus downloads

If our daily spam email is anything to go by, it’s a dangerous Internet out there, intent on giving your computer viruses and stealing all your information just because you found yourself convinced that someone called “Jen” really wanted to reconnect, even though you couldn’t remember ever knowing a Jen at any point in your life. Well, help is at hand, and coming from somewhere that you might now have expected: Facebook has created its own “Antivirus Marketplace,” offering six months free usage of name brand software to keep your computer safe from infection.

The site launched the service this morning with an announcement declaring that “nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use Facebook, and the security of their data.” As if to underscore that, Facebook is partnering with Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec, to offer free downloads of Norton AntiVirus, Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac, Microsoft Security Essentials, Trend Micro Internet Security or a six-month free subscription to McAfee’s PC Security to Facebook users. At the end of the six month period, users will be asked to buy the software or pay for a continuation of the subscription. According to the announcement, the partnerships and downloads mean that “whenever you click a link on our site, you benefit not just from Facebook’s existing protections, but the ongoing vigilance of the world’s leading corporations involved in computer security.” Beyond the downloads and subscriptions, the companies will also contribute material to the Facebook Security Blog, described as “important educational materials to help those who use our site to keep themselves, and their data, safe.”

With spam reportedly accounting  for just four percent of all content posted on Facebook, these partnerships serve more of a PR purpose than anything else: Facebook gets to make a show of being responsible and helpful, while their security partners do the same, while also raising their visibility and promoting their products to a new audience. Everyone wins, apparently — as long as those taking advantage of the six-month free trials remember to cancel them before the paid periods start.