Economists Calculate True Value of Facebook to Users is Over $1,000 USD Per Year

New research shows that Facebook addiction is much stronger than some might like to admit.

A recent study published in PLOS One found that it would take over $1,000 USD to get the average American Facebook user to walk away from the social media platform for a year.

In order to test how much Facebook’s users valued it, researchers conducted auctions in which participants submitted bids of how much it would take to get them to deactivate their account. In order to prevent strategic bidding, the auctions were conducted using the ‘second-price’ method, where only the second-highest (or in this case second-lowest) bid would win the auction.

Two groups of college students and one group of adults were tested using the auctions, with all three groups numbering between 122 and 138 people. One group of students was asked how much it would take for them to quit Facebook for one day, for three days, and for one week, extrapolating from their answers to find out how much it would take to get them to quit for one year. The other two groups were asked for the annual figure outright.

In some auctions, users were willing to give up the social media platform for short periods of time for little money — $1.84 USD for an hour, $15.73 for three days, or $38.83 for a week. But when asked how much it would take to give it up for a whole year, the amount escalated and varied.

In all three cases, the average annual figure was over $1,000 USD, ranging as high as $2,076 for one of the student groups. Unsurprisingly, the adults proved more willing to give up the social platform, with an average bid of $1,139 USD for the year. Even so, this means that these users would need to be paid almost $100 USD per month before they’d sacrifice their Facebook accounts.

The results show that the social media giant’s enduring popularity continues despite finding itself caught in a number of high-profile scandals regarding data privacy over the past year.

“Concerns about data privacy, such as Cambridge Analytica’s alleged problematic handling of users’ private information, which are thought to have been used to influence the 2016 United States presidential election, only underscore the value Facebook’s users must derive from the service,” the researchers stated.

“Despite the parade of negative publicity surrounding the Cambridge Analytica revelations in mid-March 2018, Facebook added 70 million users between the end of 2017 and March 31, 2018. This implies the value users derive from the social network more than offsets the privacy concerns.”

Read the entire study on Facebook use here.