Facebook currently has a market capitalization of $463 billion. But what’s Facebook worth to you?
A study released in January found out how much people would need to be paid to deactivate their Facebook accounts for four weeks: “The median valuation was around $100 dollars a month,” Stanford economics professor, Matthew Gentzkow, who co-authored the study told Recode.
“But there’s a lot of spread,” said Gentzkow. “There’s a lot of people all the way from $0 to $100, and then a lot of people who gave really big numbers. Sort of like, ‘You couldn’t pay me enough to give up Facebook.’
“I can’t say conclusively, ‘Has Facebook proven good or bad for society?’ [but] what is clear is that the people who use it value it a lot,” Gentzkow said.
The study, which was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, was authored by four professors, three from Stanford and one from New York University. For the study, researchers recruited 2,844 Facebook users and asked some of them to deactivate their Facebook account for four weeks, starting shortly after the 2018 U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6. Some were not paid to deactivate (the control group) and other were paid.
Fifty-eight percent of study participants were willing to deactivate for less than $102.
And for the average person in the paid group, deactivating Facebook freed up to an hour per day of their time, the study says.
Being off Facebook also generally contributed to a better subjective well-being, the study found.
“Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular on self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety,” the study said.
“I was way less stressed. I wasn’t attached to my phone as much as I was before,” one study participant reported. “And I found I didn’t really care so much about things that were happening [online] because I was more focused on my own life… I felt more content. I think I was in a better mood generally. I thought I would miss seeing everyone’s day-to-day activities… I really didn’t miss it at all.”
Another said the time that had been devoted to Facebook was redistributed to offline activities: “I realized how much time I was wasting. I now have time for other things. I’ve been reading books and playing the piano which I used to do daily until the phone took over.”
For some, however, the time off of Facebook was isolating. “I was shut off from those [online] conversations, or just from being an observer of what people are doing or thinking. . . I didn’t like it at first at all, I felt very cut off from people that I like. . . I didn’t like it because I spend a lot of time by myself anyway, I’m kind of an introvert, so I use Facebook in a social aspect in a very big way,” one study participant responded.
“This is one study of many on this topic and it should be considered that way,” a Facebook spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. “Our teams have been working hard on these issues. We’ve introduced several new tools so people can take greater control of their experience and made product updates to increase the number of meaningful conversations and connections people have on Facebook. We have more work to do, but we’re making steady progress.”
Those tools include controls allowing users to manage the time they spend on Facebook and a privacy check up, which lets users to review and change the settings that determine who you share what with, the Facebook spokesperson tells CNBC Make It.
The Facebook spokesperson also pointed out some study results were positive: “Our results leave little doubt that Facebook produces large benefits for its users,” the conclusion of the study says. “Any discussion of social media’s downsides should not obscure the basic fact that it fulfills deep and widespread needs.” These comments were “encouraging,” said the spokesperson.
Benefits mentioned in the study include Facebook being a source of news and information, a source of entertainment, a tool to help organize events or groups or a social outlet for those who feel otherwise isolated.