It's Your Data: Why Facebook Should Pay You

Facebook is seeking to raise $5 billion in cash by becoming a publicly traded company. But that money would not exist without your personal data. So do you deserve a cut?

What's the Latest Development?

Facebook is seeking to raise $5 billion in cash by becoming a publicly traded company, an action the social networking firm is expected to take by this spring. Over 70 percent of the company's profits currently come from advertising revenue, which is tailored to match your tastes thanks to all the personal data you supply Facebook. And how nice of you to offer it all for free. Facebook, which could be valued as much as $100 billion after its IPO, would not be anywhere without its 800 million users, of which you are likely one. Do you deserve a cut?

What's the Big Idea?

What makes Facebook different than other businesses which profit from their customers' contributions, such as cafés that attract customers by allowing patrons to linger? Cafés don't solicit personal information to sell to advertisers. Facebook's value comes entirely from its users and as revenue streams flow directly to the relatively few people who work at the company, society 'distorts and divides', says Jaron Lanier, an 'innovator in residence' at the University of Southern CA. He proposes a two-way revenue stream that benefits customers.

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