How Much Is Your Facebook Data Worth?

By now, most savvy Facebook users understand the company makes money off our information. Almost all of the controversies that surround Facebook have to do, in one way or another, with the company’s handling of our data privacy. However, Facebook isn’t exactly forthcoming with this information, and it’s unclear just how much our data is worth. But according to a recent report in Popular Mechanics, it differs wildly from person to person.

“If you’re educated or wealthy, people will pay more for you,” Rahul Telang, a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon, told Popular Mechanics. “If there are certain life changes going on, like you’re buying a house, or getting married, or getting divorced, or if you’re sick, all of that probably leads to more money being given to target us.”

If you take the average of Facebook’s revenue, each user’s information is worth about $8.25 per quarter, or $33 per year. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply it by one billion-plus, it begins to add up quickly. However, setting aside the money, it’s fundamentally disturbing that Facebook views us as a series of facts and figures. And worse still, this information could be used in hundreds of frightening ways by third parties, from insurance providers determining your healthcare premiums to a bank deciding whether or not to approve you for a loan. There’s no denying that providing this data to Facebook makes it more convenient to use, but at the cost of our basic privacy.