Twenty Eighteen has been quite a downer for Facebook, courtesy of a number of issues like Cambridge Analytica data scandal, privacy and security breach, Russian-linked data harvesting and much more. Additionally, several prominent figures in Silicon Valley including WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk supported #DeleteFacbook movement. Recently, a veteran technology journalist Walt Mossberg also announced his departure from Facebook saying that he is no longer comfortable on Facebook. In spite of all these pressing issues, there is a lack of evidence to support the statement that mass users have been leaving the platform.
According to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, Facebook users would require, on average, $1000 to be able to get rid of their Facebook for one year. So this particular study, in its own way, gives us an insight into why people still love Facebook. The aim of the study co-authored by four economists Jay Corrigan, Saleem Alhabash, Matthew Rousu and Sean Cash was to estimate consumer surplus. Consumer surplus is defined as the gap between the amount that users are willing to pay for a service and the amount that they actually do pay.
The study was based on three sets of auctions, out of which two involved students at universities whereas one with adults on Amazon Mechanical Turk - a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace. The study essentially asked people if they would be willing to disconnect from Facebook if they were paid a certain amount. Participants of the study bid to be paid - ranging from $1,139 up to $2,076 to sign off from Facebook. Those who placed the lowest bid “won.” The study also found out that those who prefer Snapchat or Instagram over Facebook had lower bids to place.
Commenting on this, this is what Sean Cash, an economist at Tufts University and the coauthor of the study, had to say:
“Part of the reason people stay on Facebook, despite real concerns about how it’s used or misused, is quite simply, we still get a lot of joy from it.”
He also added:
“This shows that just because we don’t pay for Facebook, that doesn’t mean we don’t value it.”