Can you put a price on your Facebook data? According to a 26-year old social media user, yes you can. So, how much are people willing to pay for it?
Most of us object to having our data “sold” to the highest bidder on Facebook or Google, but a guy by the name of Oli Frost, decided he’d rather do it himself. As he explained in a recent interview with Motherboard:
“There were loads of emails from companies over the last week about GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], saying how valuable and important my data was to them… I realized that I’d been selling my data for free for ages, and decided it was time to cash in.”
So, he’d auction off his Facebook data on eBay. The starting bid was 99 cents, and he even got up to over 40 bids, with the highest at £300 ($380), Ebay removed it – with only a few days left on the auction. As he explained on his blog:
“eBay removed the listing because it might go against Facebook’s Terms and Conditions. My mistake, I was under the impression I owned my personal data.”
But that was a minor setback, as Frost is determined, encouraging people to contact him to “make a private offer.”
So, what’s included? (in his own words)
- Every like, post, and inane comment since I was 16.
- Photos dating back to when I had a fringe and listened to Billy Talent.
- Videos dating back to when my band played gigs at kids play centres.
- A list of things I’m apparently interested in, including ‘Gluten-free diet’, ‘Jessie Ware’ and ‘Project management software’.
- Stats on how many happy birthdays I got, year by year.
- All my friend requests that got ignored.
- Every party invite I’ve ever had (all three of them).
- Loads more, like who I vote for, my boss’s name, and where all my family live.
What’s NOT included? (also in his own words)
- Permission to steal my identity and open a sweat shop.
Frost isn’t interested in profiting from the sale of his data. Instead, he wants to donate proceeds to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that is committed to online privacy. To get the data, he used the freely-available tool on his Facebook account that allows users to download their information from its platform.
Frost’s actions seem to me more like he is trying to make a point rather than seriously selling all his information. After all, he’s the guy behind Flopstarter. Whether serious or not, he’s made a very valid point. Our online data is valuable, and others are profiting from it.
Then again, why not make some money out of it, if you can? And a question: has the time come for Facebook to start paying users for their data?
Image credit: Oli Frost
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