We’ve all seen the fools shouting that data is the new oil. That Facebook makes a mint out of the data we give it for free and therefore they should be paying us for it. Said fools missing two really very important points. The first being that the data, as data, has no value at all. The second that even once it is processed into information which is useful it’s still worth a pittance. At which point the collapse of the entire complaint of course.
Which brings us to Mark Wadworth’s little calculation:
Facebook profits – $2.27 per active user
$5 billion in profits in the quarter spread over 2.2 billion global users. Not quite sure of Mark’s maths there but still.
Now bring that down to a daily amount. That’s 2.52 cents per user per day.
Well, yes, we’re all going to get a long way to a useful basic income if we’re being paid the true value of our data then, aren’t we? No, really, I’ve seen at least one entirely serious suggestion that the value of data will pay for a universal basic income. Clearly, these ideas are coming from people who just don’t know how to add.
To explain the first of the errors though, that it is the data itself which has value. No, this is not so. It is the information extracted from the data which has the value. And in order to do the extraction we have to run an organisation the size and shape of Facebook. Running Facebook has costs of course. The net value of the information is the revenue from it minus the costs of Facebook – that also being known as the profit.
Even if you still want to insist that we should have the value of our data that value is the profit made from it, not the gross revenue. Thus that 2.52 cents a day.
Or, more accurately, a pittance which is of no relevance to anything which concerns us.