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Can you delete your Facebook account for Sh200,000?

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By AGEWA MAGUT
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How much would you want to be paid to relinquish your beloved Facebook account for a year?

If your figure is anything below Sh200,000, you might need to re-consider the value you attach to your account.

A new study has found that the average Facebook user will relinquish their account for a period of 12 months if they are compensated between Sh150,000 to Sh200,000.

According to a paper published in December in PLOS ONE journal by three economists and a social media researcher in the United States who sought to discover the value Facebook had to its users, most people would agree to deactivate their accounts if they were given adequate compensation.

In Kenya, users of the social media platform also agree that they have to be compensated to close their accounts. Ms Irene Muthoni, a professional working in Nairobi, said she would agree to close her account if she was paid Sh200,000.

“The Sh200,000 would be commensurate to the amount of data I have there, the advertisements I get on Messenger (Facebook’s private messages application) and for information security,” a Ms Muthoni told the Nation.

For Mr Francis Mwongela, a communications officer at a local university, he would deactivate his account if only he is given Sh2 million in exchange.

But Ms Fridah Kathure, 33, said that given a good reason, she would close her account for free.

Researchers carried out the experiment using auctions in which people were paid to deactivate their accounts for one hour, a day, three days, one week and one year. It was found that Facebook users would require an average of more than Sh100,000 to deactivate their account for one year.

The experiment began when two teams made up of Saleem Alhabash at Michigan State University and Sean Cash at Tufts University; Matthew Rousu of Susquehanna University and Jay Corrigan, a professor of economics at Kenyon College, began experiments using auctions to identify the value users give to the social media platform.

“It is hard to find evidence that the Internet has made us richer or more productive at work. We know people must derive tremendous value from Facebook or they would not spend millions of hours on the site every day. The challenge is how to put a dollar value on a service people don’t pay for,” said author Corrigan.

In total, the researchers ran three actual auctions with two samples of college students, a community sample, and an online sample. Winners were paid upon proof that their membership to the social media site was deactivated for the set time.

In the first auction, a sample of 122 students at a US college was used. The average bid for deactivating Facebook for one day was about Sh50, for three days was Sh1,400 and for one week about Sh4,000. To calculate a one-year estimate, the researchers annualised this data, which showed a range of Sh150,000 to Sh200,000.

For the second auction, 133 students and 138 adults from American Midwestern University town were sampled. The average bid to deactivate Facebook for one year in the student group was Sh211,000 while the average bid in the community group was Sh116,000. In the third experiment, 931 adults of an average age of 33 years within the US were found using the Internet through the Amazon Mechanical Turk open marketplace. The average bid to deactivate their accounts for one year was Sh195,500.

“Students placed a higher value on Facebook than community members. A number of participants refused to bid at all, suggesting that deactivating Facebook was not a welcome possibility,” said corresponding author Sean Cash.

The social networking site has over two billion users worldwide. “While the measurable impact Facebook and other free online services have on the economy may be small, our results show that the benefits these services provide for their users are large,” wrote the authors.

They also observed that Facebook remains the top social networking site in the world and the third most visited on the Internet after Google and YouTube despite market fluctuations and controversies.

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