How Much Is Your Online Data Really Worth?

By Lee Schafer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Lee Schafer of the Star Tribune takes a look at how many of the tech companies (specifically Facebook) are now faced with the herculean task of balancing privacy with a business built on targeted advertising ads.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

By now Facebook users seem to finally get that they may not get charged anything for using the social networking service but it sure isn’t free, not after being subjected to ad after spookily tailored ad.

Yet users still seem to have a long way to go to fully understand what Facebook and the other big tech companies are really doing. And, of course, Facebook seems just as far away from delivering what consumers clearly seem to want.

That’s my pessimistic conclusion from a new research note by the venture capital firm Loup Ventures of Minneapolis, in which Managing Partner Doug Clinton answered the question of what the online data of a single U.S. user are really worth.

Clinton and his Loup partners are technology optimists, with Clinton saying this week that people should expect at least a few problems with pretty much all innovations that make their lives better.

He started looking into the topic of what he called social data not because of Facebook’s still-unfolding privacy scandal but by puzzling over technical solutions for locking up and then selling one’s own personal data.

One problem Loup found here — which is that a user’s not worth nearly as much to Facebook as consumers seem to think — seems to also suggest that Facebook has a lot of work ahead to regain consumer trust.

As almost everyone must know by now, Google doesn’t charge for using Google Maps, and Facebook doesn’t charge for its popular Facebook and Instagram applications. These applications are almost too easy to use, as even novices can get online and be liking and friending like mad within minutes.

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