# How much does an hour of Facebooking cost?February 28, 2012 9:20 AM   Subscribe

How much does an hour of Facebooking cost?

We've all heard "If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold." and even discussed it on MetaTalk.

I personally have no problem with this. It's how much of the world works, and Facebook provides me with more value than what they probably extract from me.

I am curious, though, as to how much money it actually costs Facebook for me dick around on it for one hour.

Any idea how to calculate this?
posted by Cobalt to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)

These are sloppy numbers, but might get you in the ballpark.

Facebook spends \$50million a year on data centers (2010 data).

It was noted in 2009 that there were about 1,000,000 concurrent users at peak usage. It's been a few years, so let's just use that number to be sustained concurrent usage.

(\$50,000,000 / (365 * 24)) / 1,000,000 users = \$0.006 for your dicking.

So next time you update your status, giving your two cents is costing Facebook far less to take.
posted by hanoixan at 9:34 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of both hard and soft costs that you probably won't be able to know including how much Facebook paid for the developers, project managers, marketing to create, upgrade, and maintain the features you are using (number of employees, amount of time, business resources). A lot of Facebook services are distributed amongst servers that you may or may not be able to find out about.

The most quantifiable thing for you to measure in terms of your use is how much data you are directly transferring to and receiving from Facebook. Hook up a network sniffer, play around for an hour, and see how much data was transferred back-and-forth. Place some sort of reasonable value on how much that costs per KB and you have a ballpark estimate.
posted by seppyk at 9:36 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: It cost 1.96 billion dollars (before taxes) to run Facebook for all of 2011. Let's say that that stayed about the same level for all year since I can't find a quarterly earnings report anywhere. That works out to 5.37 million dollars per day or \$223k per hour. In December of 2011 they had 483 million daily active users and 845 million monthly active users. This puts the cost to Facebook of you using their service for an hour at 0.03 cents and 0.05 cents.
posted by mkb at 9:38 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: It cost 1.96 billion dollars (before taxes) to run Facebook for all of 2011. Let's say that that stayed about the same level for all year since I can't find a quarterly earnings report anywhere. That works out to 5.37 million dollars per day or \$223k per hour. In December of 2011 they had 483 million daily active users and 845 million monthly active users. This puts the cost to Facebook of you using their service for an hour at 0.03 cents and 0.05 cents.

This seems way off, since you're calculating the average cost per hour. For instance, when you're asleep at night, those are hours of your time, and you're an "active Facebook user," but of course you're not actually using Facebook during those hours. Hopefully, you don't spend most hours of your day using Facebook. It would be like calculating the average amount of money you spend on food per hour (which you could get by looking at your annual food spending and dividing by the number of hours in a year), and then concluding that you spend that much money when you take an hour-long lunch break. No, you probably spend, I don't know, 10 times as much at lunch.
posted by John Cohen at 9:58 AM on February 28, 2012

"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this mean that Facebook is making money off you? So shouldn't your question be how much is Facebook making off you per hour, rather than how much Facebook is spending on you?
posted by sweetkid at 10:33 AM on February 28, 2012

Response by poster: According to this, I'm worth less than five bucks a year.
posted by Cobalt at 10:46 AM on February 28, 2012

they had 483 million daily active users and 845 million monthly active users

This tells you that theres a huge bell curve to Facebook usage, almost half their users only login once a month, and the curve goes through to teenagers who update via their mobile phone every 2 minutes. Where you sit on this bell curve, and how many people follow you will determine how much you are costing Facebook. Someone who uploads lots of pictures and has 5000 followers will be costing Facebook more.

The flip side of this is that someone who uploads lots of pictures and has 5000 followers is adding content and helping to make Facebook even more popular, if those 5000 followers do nothing other than look at pictures and click on ads then Facebook still win.
posted by Lanark at 1:53 PM on February 28, 2012

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