These are raw estimates given by PrivacyFix, an app developed by the security software
company AVG, based on publicly available data on how much revenue
those companies generate per user, with tweaks based on personal
usage. It asks permission to tap into a person's Facebook and
Google accounts to show them how their privacy settings are
configured and take them to where those settings can be adjusted,
in addition to presenting their supposed monetary value.
For Facebook, its calibration takes a person's activity --
likes, posts and photos -- into account, as well as how many
friends they have. By its reckoning, women are worth 25% more than
men. American and Canadian users generate almost 8.5 times as much
revenue on average as people in Latin America, Australia and
Africa, according to Facebook's own disclosure.
For Google, its calibration of users' "worth" is based on the
volume of searches they've conducted in the past 60 days from the
specific browser and device they're using at the time -- with the
notion that the more you search, the more likely you are to be
clicking on an ad at some point. The tool has no way of knowing
whether you're searching for some highly lucrative keyword, like a
particular diabetes medication, that would bring in tens or even
hundreds of dollars for Google. It also can't know if you're the
kind of person who makes it a point to never click on paid search
While PrivacyFix's numbers are very rough estimates, it's
certainly interesting to consider how your usage habits make you a
more or less valuable commodity than other users. And also a
reminder that intent-based searching is still a much, much more
valuable behavior than over-sharing the minutiae of your day or
funny memes with your Facebook friends.
Women more valuable
I'm a woman and live in the U.S. -- facts which on their own put me
among Facebook's most valuable users -- but I'm apparently a lot
less active on Facebook than the average PrivacyFix user, which is
bound to constrain my value. The tool says I've liked 35 items in
the past month and posted one photo and one update apiece. The
average PrivacyFix user likes 130 items per month, posts updates a
whopping 110 times (including comments to other users' posts and
photos), and publishes nine photos.
I do, however, have 368 Facebook friends -- more than double the
average PrivacyFix user's 175.
AVG declined to disclose the number of people who have installed
the app, which it released in September.
The most valuable female U.S. users it's tracked yield $37.98
annually for Facebook (compared to my measly $20.75), while the
most valuable American men have pitched in $30.38, according to its
calculations. The least valuable American women brought in $17.02,
while the least valuable men contributed $13.61.
However, it's also possible that publishing and liking activity
aren't even the best proxy for Facebook engagement anymore. Users
who make less noise might sometimes be more engaged, and Facebook
is trying to figure out the patterns underlying that more quiet
The social network is carefully studying the consumption habits
of its users to see what sorts of content individuals are truly
immersed in, with the end of showing them more relevant content,
according to Slate. Thus,
not all "likes" are created equal, and a like given by users after
they've actually clicked through to read a piece of content in
their news feed should be given more weight than likes by users
who've scanned a headline and presumably feel an affinity with it
– for reasons political, cultural, or otherwise -- but don't
bother to actually click to read the story.
So some quiet Facebook users are potentially still spending an
outsized chunk of time on the social network and eyeballing more
than their share of ads. They're reading articles and looking at
photos without leaving a trail of breadcrumbs made up of likes and
comments that PrivacyFix could pick up on.