Would you quit Facebook if someone would pay you for it? It’s a dinner-party question that economists believe holds the key to how much using Facebook is worth to you. If you can put a dollar value on quitting Facebook, the theory goes, that amount would be similar to the amount you’d be willing to pay for it.
It would take $200 or less to get half of the US college students studied to drop facebook for a year. For non-students in the same community and online participants, it would only take up to $100 each, according to research published on Dec. 19 in PLoS ONE.
The researchers observed students from Michigan State University, community members from the area around Michigan State, and online participants found on Amazon’s Mechanical turk.
The researchers found that Facebook is very valuable to a small group of people. After taking out of the analysis those who asked for over $50,000 for one year without Facebook, there were still 37 people from who priced one year without the site over $10,000.
In a separate experiment with students from Kenyon College, the researchers found it would take $3 or less to persuade half of the students to give up Facebook for one day. It would take $6 or less for three days and $15 or less for a week. Some students valued the site much more. The average payment requested for one week without Facebook was almost $40.
With all of the in-person groups, participants were told that they would have to provide proof their account had been deactivated to receive the payment.
This is not the first time researchers used this method (known as “willingness to accept”) to calculate the value of Facebook.
In April, researchers from MIT and University of Groningen in Netherlands also used the same method to conduct online surveys on a wider variety of digital and physical goods. They found that people would rather lose Facebook for a year than give up video streaming. But it also found that people would rather go a year without music streaming or breakfast cereal than lose Facebook.