Easies way to grab free Bitcoins
Faucets usually give tiny amounts that typically fluctuate according to the value of bitcoin. Typical payout per transaction is less than 1000 satoshi, although many faucets have random larger rewards. Normally faucet saves up these small individual payments in its own ledger, and they add up to make a larger payment that is sent to your bitcoin address. This is to reduce mining fees. Some faucets use immediate off-blockchain transactions, which have no fees.
Bitcoin faucet rotators can ‘rotate’ through a large list of faucets by clicking a button on a single website, meaning more sites can be visited than entering the URL of the site after site. The website earns money through a referral system for each website visited. Faucet rotators can also prioritize faucets by their level of average payout and will only visit sites if the time limit in between payouts has been reached.
The business model of bitcoin faucets is to get advertising revenue from banner ads and distribute the only a portion of that money to users. A time limit is imposed between payouts to stop bots, human CAPTCHA solvers in third world countries, or avid users performing repeated withdrawals.
As bitcoin transactions are irreversible and there are many faucets, they have become targets for hackers stealing the bitcoins.
Faucets definitely played a role in the very beginning of Bitcoin. They helped spread Bitcoin and generated a part of the early user basis. Giving out numbers of Bitcoin for free was very common back then since there was no idea about the value of them yet. That has changed a lot since then, and nowadays faucets usually do not give out more than amounts that are far away from any fiat value. Instead, they encourage the users of the faucets to spread links in order to be rewarded.