Facebook, Meta lawsuit: What price is your personal data worth?

facebook meta personal data lawsuit - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Facebook and other social platforms how benefited from free use of our personal data for years, but are we all entitled to a slice of the lucrative personal data cake?

This is the huge question legals are asking in a class action lawsuit that could see Facebook owner Meta facing handing £2.3bn in compensation to UK consumers that use the social media platform.

But will handing the data power back to the people on social media really be feasible? And how will the personal data economy redress the commodification of data?

We asked Andrew Carmody, CMO of consumer analytics firm, ViewersLogic, for his expert view on possibly the biggest issue facing the social media world since Facebook got its first ‘like’…

Andrew Carmody, CMO, ViewersLogic
Andrew Carmody, CMO, ViewersLogic

The recent report that Meta is being sued for £2.3 billion following claims of data exploitation in the UK raises interesting questions about the data economy.  

Currently, this is an asymmetric market that is controlled by the walled gardens. As Meta makes 98% of its income selling users’ data to advertisers, they know the value of this information; the consumer, however, does not. 

Facebook lawsuit – Redressing the data imbalance

In order to redress the balance, consumers need to be fully in control of their data. 

Only when they can decide when to share their information, with whom and for what compensation will the ‘personal data economy’ really take off. 

Personal data is generated across everyday touch points, such as location, viewing habits and shopping preferences. Initially, privacy regulations such as  GDPR were established to protect personal information and to lay the foundations of this economy. 

Therefore, this new marketplace would fulfil the core purpose of these regulations, empowering the individual to take ownership of their data.

An essential aspect of any economy or marketplace is transparency on the value of the goods being traded. 

Personal data issues - Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
Losing out: Consumers have lost out on the sale of their lucrative personal data for too long.

Consumers out of the loop

In the case of personal data, only big companies trading this precious information know the value of it — and consumers are out of the loop.

Only when consumers know its value can they make an explicit and informed decision about sharing it. 

Because companies use data for different reasons and certain pieces of information are deemed more useful than others, the value of data is deeply subjective. For instance, health data is currently highly valuable. 

Last year, it was reported that the NHS will be selling data to third parties, which could be worth almost £10 billion a year through operational savings. 

Likewise, consumers may place a higher price on more personal information they are less willing to share. 

However, this ambiguity can be resolved once consumers are in control of their data and it is being openly traded, allowing a ‘truer’ market value to present itself for specific data in certain use cases. 

Moreover, when a consumer has ownership of their data, they can share it multiple times to different companies for varying rewards. 

In the future, the value of personal data will eclipse all other forms of data. As well as providing brands with rich behavioural data for targeting, it will transform our economic models, with consumers using it as a source of income. 

And inevitably, as consumers become more aware of the power they hold, the tech giants’ grip on ad spend will begin to loosen.

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