How do you calculate the value of user data?

Let’s read this article and discuss the recommended methods of of calculating the value of data, our data:

I am curious about the community opinion here on this topic and suggested solutions.

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I agree with the conclusion of the Electronic Frontier Foundation at the end of the article that it is not a good deal to be paid for your data, and also think it is not a valuable exercise.

I do not believe those value calculations (e.g. 400 $/yr) will ever be the actual amount that users receive. These values are actually built up in the entire supply chain. Granting a couple of dollars for data will work to get consent from more people to harvest the data, but does nothing to mitigate the Wild Wild West of surveillance capitalism and privacy erosion.

The biggest dangers in this data collection are not in the raw data points that one provides, but in aggregation and subsequent processing by AI and machine learning applications. This derived data is probably not possible to calculate well in terms of value.

All data, once given, is out of control of the user. It can be used in any way and for any purpose, and at any time now and in the future. Wrong conclusions can be derived from it, and new very private insights can be gleaned from it, especially in combination with other data that is available about you. Political, sexual preference, character traits, emotional state, intelligence, competencies, strength and weaknesses, etc.

Maybe it would be better to talk about value in combination with the risks of data exposure. But that is also very hard, if not impossible, to measure.


This assumes that the data is worth something. It’s only worth anything if brands continue to pay for it.

What we are witnessing is one of the greatest long cons in economic history, in which the tech industry has convinced everyone that:

  1. advertising performance is now measurable in this wonderful new metric called clicks,
  2. targeted ads are more effective than traditional ads (based on #1),
  3. ads distributed on user-content aggregator platforms are “brand-safe.”

All 3 of these points are false (or not demonstrably true), but #3 is really the one to bust the scam wide open.

EDIT: In terms of solutions, I think the best one is just for people to migrate off these platforms, especially if you are relying on them for anything business related. Google and Facebook are not going to pay anything because they themselves are not secure in their income.

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Interesting, I think advertisers view Google and Facebook as platforms rather than content, so they ignore the actual content quality which is low since it’s raw web scraping and user generated posts. But on the other hand, because of their size Big Tech media firms do have certain content filters that sometimes work well.

In any case, I think Google and Facebook’s scraping, pirating, psycological insecurity and addiction business model might make less and less sense as the web evolves to something less primitive.

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