It's been a rocky couple of years for Facebook, and the next one isn't looking too much better. The attorney general of the District of Columbia has just sued the company for massive privacy violations, and #DeleteFacebook is trending on Twitter like never before. That said, most of us still can't bear to put it down — not for free, anyway.
Since Facebook is free (sort of), researchers at Tufts University and Kenyon College wanted to find out what it's worth to its users. So they came up with a simple test: They paid people to stay off the website, the app, and its affiliated services. On average, Americans won't deactivate their Facebook accounts for less than $1,000. Among some groups, that number was almost twice as high.
Facebook and other social media companies have certainly had some ROI for their users. For one, we're better about giving gifts, and some companies are using Facebook's WhatsApp to significantly speed up customer service. That may seem like small potatoes in comparison to 50 million-user data breaches, exposing your private banking records to third parties, and just generally wasting five and a half years of everyone's lives.
As for the study, according to one author, "A number of participants refused to bid at all, suggesting that deactivating Facebook for a year was not a welcome possibility." That's fine — ditching a service as ubiquitous as Facebook isn't an option for everybody. As long as you're happy with how you're managing your time around social media, you may still be able to get the most out of it.