Facebook has been constantly under fire recently for privacy breaches, political bias and market monopoly, sending its stocks tumbling 6 percent and user trust plummeting – according to surveys, at least. But not trusting Facebook and not using it are not the same thing, a study published earlier this week shows.
Plos One, a privately run peer-reviewed research journal based out of California, decided to assess Facebook’s worth not to the stock markets, but to the average user.
The method worked through holding “experimental auctions” where the real money was placed based on their not using the site for various periods of time, from an hour to an entire year. The user essentially “bet” against how much time he or she would have to give up, which was chosen randomly. The study approached various demographics and samples, and yet fairly consistently came up similar results: “we consistently find that our 1,258 auction participants derive over $1000 of value annually on average from Facebook, reinforcing the idea that the computer age’s effect on society’s well-being is much larger than its effect on GDP. “
While Facebook’s official net-worth sits around $630bn, the study concludes the social networking site provides around $240bn in worth to users, a number significantly higher than Facebook’s own estimates to investors which claim each user to be worth around $250.
Despite that we now have another look at how much value is truly behind the massive social-networking platform, the numbers have done little to explain how a site that predominantly traffics in cat-memes, pictures of babies and food has managed to become such an integral aspect of our lives. Given the fact that over half of Facebook users report not trusting the company, what makes it so hard for users to step away, even when somebody is paying them to do so?