Occasionally there is the idea that the big internet companies, which
collect and monetize user data, should pay their users directly, as they
are, after all, the original producers of all that data. Jaron
Lanier has made this argument, among others.
So, lets make a simple calculation, based on Facebook's latest, better
than expected, quarterly numbers.
users: 1,32 billion
revenue: 2,91 billion
profit: 0.791 billion
This is an incredible profit margin. Now, lets assume that Facebook
would use half of that profit to pay users for their data.
395'000'000 / 1320'000'000 = .30
So, the average user would earn about 30 cents, per quarter. If it's
correct that Facebook users spend 40 minutes per day on the site, then
adds up to roughly 60 hours per quarter.
If you divide the 30 cents income by the 60 hours work, the you end up
with an hourly-wage of $.005.
Now this is obviously the roughest of ballpark estimates you can make --
and I would be happy to see a better one -- but on the face of it,
it seems to indicate that viewing one personal data as an economic asset
is really a lousy idea, no matter how you slice it.
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