back to article Facebook worth more than Portugal? Hell, it's worth a LOT more than THAT

As an esteemed editor said, one not a million miles away from here, the fact that Facebook has commissioned a report showing what vast amounts of wonderful, beneficial economic activity it is responsible for indicates that the company in fact contributes nothing. Stands to reason, that does. And even once one allows for a …

  1. Stuart 22

    A tax on business.

    So I pay an employee $24/hour. He/she spends 6 mins of it on Facebook - an underestimate?

    So I'm being taxed $2.4/hour by Facebook. Employee cost is approx 2 x salary so it round terms it is $5. I, and all other employers, have hike my prices to compensate so in reality the consumer pays (or the stockholder if I take the hit).

    Given that Facebook has taken 10% of my employee's productivity - then I need to employ an extra 10% of staff to get the same job done. Of course 1% of this would be re-taken by Facebook and so on.

    I could filter Facebook on the LAN. But folks would just FB on their mobiles in the bog. So I have no option to let Facebook create more employment at my expense through the addictive power of their exploitative activity.

    Well I suppose its good that I and other employers should feel honoured we are paying for a greater contribution to society than Portugal. Thank you FB.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: A tax on business.

      Given that Facebook has taken 10% of my employee's productivity - then I need to employ an extra 10% of staff to get the same job done. Of course 1% of this would be re-taken by Facebook and so on.

      I could filter Facebook on the LAN. But folks would just FB on their mobiles in the bog. So I have no option to let Facebook create more employment at my expense through the addictive power of their exploitative activity.

      A small technology business with which I'm somewhat familiar tried this too.

      First they blocked farcebook access on the desktop, so people VPN'd or proxied around it. Then they blocked most of the proxies and made use of FB by any means a GPM offence. So the employees accessed it from the bogs using their phones. So work brought in a no mobiles in the office policy and setup secure phone storage in reception where phones could be left at the start of the day. As far as I'm aware the battle rages to this day.

      While FB use on corporate time is a problem, employees will find other ways to slack off, such as posting on El Reg, rather than devote that 6 mins an hour to actual productive work. The internet is a great productivity tool as well as a massive distraction. Any company finding a reliable way to keep the productivity enhancing parts while losing the distractions won't need to worry about their core business; they'll be able to resell their solution for a fortune.

    2. John H Woods

      Re: A tax on business.

      "Given that Facebook has taken 10% of my employee's productivity - then I need to employ an extra 10% of staff to get the same job done. Of course 1% of this would be re-taken by Facebook and so on."

      You need to employ an extra ~ 11.1% of staff. It's the same percentage problem you get when sellers have a "no V.A.T." sale and people (often the sellers themselves!) think this means 20% off.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: A tax on business.

      Stuart 22,

      This is something you should be able to measure. You know your staff numbers. You know your inputs (computers, machines, raw materials) and you know your outputs (stuff produced - either by amount or by sale price). So you can work out your productivity, and check if it's changed since Facebook became common.

      My suspicion would be that if employees aren't on FB, they're shopping online, reading magazines in the toilets, talking to friends on the phone, sending round email jokes or just chatting by the coffee machine. This has always been so, and forever will be.

      For example I get almost no jokes by email anymore, I used to get loads. This is because I'm not on FB, and that's where those jokes get put up nowadays.

      Of course the other thing you missed is that Facebook are costing you nothing. It's your employees choosing to use it. Which links to my comment above, about other methods of distraction. I've just had a conversation about shooting kangaroos with a temp we're currently employing (who's just come back from a year in Australia).

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    Opportunity cost?

    If Facebook didn't exist, wouldn't people spend their time doing something else? Sure, they supposedly get less utility out of it (or maybe more because we don't have perfect information -- that would ruin TV, by the way), but they won't get zero utility out of it. I would in fact guess that pointless wank social network game type thingies are all pretty much the same, so if it were not Facebook it would be Google+, or Diaspora, or whatever the others are called. If they aren't quite as good, but still fine, then the person has only lost a couple of cents per hour, unless it's MySpace, in which case they have lost a lot more. Alternatively, if they spend it watching a new TV show they heard about, and that turns out to be Breaking Bad -- which is great -- their utility has actually increased.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Opportunity cost?

      Substitute "Facebook" with "The Internet", and you might be on to something.

      As much as the Internet has helped us, it has also reduced productivity - especially in the office. Back when I first started working (early 90s) there was no real Internet (technically there was, but we didn't really know about it), and email rarely happened (I vaguely recall some convoluted DOS prompt login process which allowed me to be informed I had no new messages). When I sat at my desk, I worked - or looked at and discussed the cool things people around me were working on (I worked in the games industry at a well respected developer - the stuff going on around me was cooler than cool).

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Opportunity cost?

        "Substitute "Facebook" with "The Internet", and you might be on to something."

        Hahaha. The Internet. Reduced productivity. Right. Hopefully Tim will be along with some numbers, but the Internet is responsible for massively lowering costs and this hugely increases productivity. It has also revolutionized entire fields, such as science. The incredible explosion in new science and mathematics that has been caused by the Internet (easy access to literature, e-mail, Skype conversations, even down to something so simple as making it easy for me to book flights to conferences) will make long-term GDP trends significantly increase.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Opportunity cost?

          Hahaha. The Internet. Reduced productivity. Right. Hopefully Tim will be along with some numbers, but the Internet is responsible for massively lowering costs and this hugely increases productivity.

          I upvoted you because I agree, with caveats. The net effect (see what I did there?) of the internet is a massive positive on all aspects of life - from learning and study, through to socialising and travel.

          The above doesn't mean its all good though. Employees will slack off and use the net in roles which are not enhanced by the internets presence, such as routine manufacturing/factory work, where knowledge plays little part in the role (I've worked in my share of factories before anyone gets upset, and what I knew didn't impact my job half as much as how fast I could/was willing to repeat a well known task).

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Opportunity cost?

            "The net effect (see what I did there?) of the internet is a massive positive on all aspects of life - from learning and study, through to socialising and travel.

            The above doesn't mean its all good though."

            Absolutely. There are of course negatives, social ones for example, as well as financial. But even in social terms it has probably been positive on balance, with revolutionizing dating, for example. Internet dating is not something I've personally tried, but it appears to be a significant step above the previous incarnations of dating agencies.

          2. sed gawk Silver badge

            Re: Opportunity cost?

            Completely agree, but have a different take on productivity.

            I think there is a maximum amount of productive effort to be gained from an employee while keeping them happy. Trusting them to deliver that effort combined with firing piss takers, can let you just leave people to get on with their work.

            Huge caveat, you need the right people, but why bother stopping people being people for diminishing returns on productivity?

            I read the reg at work sometimes but I also work extra sometimes as I like to keep my clients happy.

            There is definitely a line and piss takers must be pruned.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Opportunity cost?

          "Hahaha. The Internet. Reduced productivity. Right."

          As a consultant for a gold-plated (turd) mulitbillion multinational consultancy, I can only justify my (corporate) existence on the basis that I can learn what I need to know from the net; including, to a large extent --- the Register (and, more specifically, some of its commentards). This is because, despite my being sold as an up-to-date expert, my company (probably like yours) has a training budget of effectively $0.

        3. Def Silver badge

          Re: Opportunity cost? @DavCrav

          I guess my argument would have made more sense if The Register had a tongue-in-cheek icon, huh? ;)

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Opportunity cost? @DavCrav

            "I guess my argument would have made more sense if The Register had a tongue-in-cheek icon, huh? ;)"

            Choose your colour based on this handy chart, courtesy of El Reg.

            1. Def Silver badge

              Re: Opportunity cost? @DavCrav

              Good God, man, that was 13 years ago. Almost 14 if you can count properly right off the bat. (Which I clearly can't.)

              I have trouble remembering last Wednesday's breakfast. (But putting White Russians on your Cornflakes can take you that way sometimes.)

              1. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: Opportunity cost? @DavCrav

                "Good God, man, that was 13 years ago. Almost 14 if you can count properly right off the bat. (Which I clearly can't.)"

                I think it's coming close to the time when I need to revisit my working hypothesis of everything after 2000 being "recent".

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    The value is actually negative

    Not only advertisement is in itself a cost for the economy (in the same way as the employees wages are) but 99.9999% of all ads are completely wasted because they are automatically ignored, blocked, disregarded or actively disbelieved by the intended audience.

    Add to that the hours wasted by employees of productive businesses, which otherwise could have been spent on doing something useful and it is clear that FB is a huge net cost to the worldwide economy.

    It's a world-wide informational equivalent of waste heat. I postulate that the informational death of the Universe will occur when all free information in the world will finally sink into Facebook so no more useful information will remain. I am also afraid that it will happen much earlier than the heat death of the Universe :-(

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The value is actually negative

      Advertising is part of GDP because someone gets paid to do it. Just like chocolate bars are part of GDP, even though they're a cost - because although someone has to pay to get them, they then get to eat them. Yum.

      Tim's argument about Labour was that a company saying the've created jobs are actually saying they've added a cost to people's lives. Admittedly it also has a benefit.

      The point about Facebook is that people derive pleasure from using it. Even I, logging on once a month, get a small amount of pleasure from seeing pictures of my nephews and niece. Other people are using it a whole lot more. Similarly the Register pays some salaries, buys bandwidth, servers, phones and computers - and sells adverts. But GDP shows that stuff without showing the economic benefit derived by us lucky buggers that get to read and comment on it for free. They even bought me several pints of beer the other day - and a truly life-threatening amount of pork pie.

      This consumer benefit isn't picked up by GDP figures. We might even have to [vomit] start talking about measures of gross national happiness. Erk!

      If someone makes something existing cheaper, then it's easier to work out the benefits. Say a new method of air travel. We know what people were doing before, we can subtract the cost of doing it the new way from the old. Then we can look at how many more people are using the new service because it's more affordable, and we can use all that to come with an idea of what society has gained from this innovation. Obviously after subtracting the cost of the changeover.

      But how can we do this for something entirely new, that's also free?

  4. Denarius Silver badge
    Pint

    bootnote blessings

    A beer for the Editor. Very neat appropriation of Tims back of envelope valuations to argue the value of ElReg

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: bootnote blessings

      And, rather more importantly, the lack of value of France...

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: lack of value of France

        Oh I don't know, I would like to take part in a France versus Portugal smack-down on either food or nubile lady fronts.

        Maybe both, but then I'm a dirty old man. Thanks, mine is the mac...

    2. Irony Deficient

      Re: bootnote blessings

      While the Editor is enjoying that beer,

      Savvy advertisers would surely place their messages here — admittedly at somewhat greater cost — rather than flick them alongside their pennies into the dark Facebook well of nothingness and despair.
      savvy advertisers might notice the point of view overwhelmingly provided by this site’s readers here (and the actions taken by them as a consequence) before deciding to Regwardly redirect their pennyflicking.

  5. Tim Roberts 1

    worth more or "worth more"

    Facebook may be worth more in dollar terms, and I accept that dollar worth is the king these days, but I posit that Portugal has far more to offer residents, travellers and visitors than any social media can. Visit Portugal and post your selfies, but remember that facebook is not the real Portugal and the real Portugal probably doesn't give a flying fuck about facebook (yet)

  6. Micha Roon
    Terminator

    Wasting twice the time

    By the author's logic, FB has not added any value as people do not spend less time at work (officially at least) and they simply switched from watching TV to using FB. Or could they be doing both at the same time? This would have added value as the consumer could waste twice as much time and still get enough sleep.

    The gain in living standards is questionable as the pursuit of an addiction (and FB has been shown to be addictive) can not be qualified as elevated living standards.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wasting twice the time

      This - tie it together with the Opportunity Cost argument above you could argue that all we have done is swapped one leisure activity for another and any gain in utility (let alone something more concrete) is marginal at best.

      And that's without factoring in the fact that facebooking is an asynchronous activity that can be performed in the "quiet times" between other leisure activities.

      Indeed there's probably a delicious irony that advertisers are paying twice to get our attention for less time than they previously would have. ie We skip the TV adbreak to Twitbook, then ignore their ads to concentrate on the Kitten Video or Doris's latest colostomy adventure.

      1. Any mouse Cow turd

        Re: Wasting twice the time

        I agree that the likelihood is that much of time spent on facebook has been appropriated from other leisure or low productivity time but there is also an argument that it has impacted on other areas of the economy by allowing free broadcast and communication technologies to the masses, thus eliminating the need for those service sectors.

        One example is all those birthday wishes which many moons ago would have come in the form of a card, made by a stationary company, sold in a shop and delivered via a postal service now comes in the form of a wall post.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Wasting twice the time

        This:

        tie it together with the Opportunity Cost argument above you could argue that all we have done is swapped one leisure activity for another and any gain in utility (let alone something more concrete) is marginal at best.

        Contradicts, this:

        And that's without factoring in the fact that facebooking is an asynchronous activity that can be performed in the "quiet times" between other leisure activities.

        If FB is allowing you do get 'extra' utility from your time spent watching telly, then Facebook by definition has increased your utility.

        Plus the original argument is wrong anyway. If Facebooking has replaced TV watching, it's because people value it more. As they're not really paying for either (no marginal cost anyway - so long as they do some of each), then by definition by switching from one to the other they prefer, they have increased their total utility.

        Hence Facebook has made society happier. Yuck! What a horrible sentence to type. But I guess it's true. That means that even JLS and the Spice Girls have made society better off too. Oh God! I need a lie down! Economics sucks!

        Phew! It's OK. I've just realised that people pay for their consumption of JLS and Spice Girls. So their economic costs and benefits are measured financially. Plus we can talk about externalities. In the same way that CO2 release is an externality, as it's not captured by GDP but has a cost to everyone on the globe, I can say that noise pollution by JLS and Spice Girls records has a cost to society. I therefore propose a noise-capture program, along with cap and trade. So crap music can only be produced if those making the profits "offset" the noise pollution they so create by funding some decent music. By buying music-credits. Either that or noise sequestration. In carbon sequestration you capture the output from a coal burning power station and bury the carbon. So this could mean encasing JLS and the Spice Girls in special lead-lined barrels, then burying them at the bottom of a mine. I've proved that this is no longer a personal desire, but an economic and environmental necessity!

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Wasting twice the time

          "Plus the original argument is wrong anyway. If Facebooking has replaced TV watching, it's because people value it more. As they're not really paying for either (no marginal cost anyway - so long as they do some of each), then by definition by switching from one to the other they prefer, they have increased their total utility."

          They have increased it at no marginal cost, but you cannot value that increase in utility as equal to the total utility gained from a leisure activity, which is implicit in the original calculation, comparing it to the cost of labour. If I get a free dinner, and then a free apple afterwards, that apple is not worth nearly as much to me as the free dinner, and rating that apple as being worth about £20, the cost of a dinner, is definitely wrong.

        2. gwangy

          Re: Wasting twice the time

          Chritian Horner would have something to say about that .... He iz a great fanof JLS!

      3. Tim Worstal

        Re: Wasting twice the time

        and any gain in utility (let alone something more concrete) is marginal at best.

        Well......there must be a gain otherwise no one would have switched.

  7. John Mangan

    Tim says . . .

    "Which is a bit weird, but then economics can be a bit weird at times."

    And that's the bit that made the most sense to me!

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Tim says . . .

      Economics is probably a crock...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much would they pay?

    I'm not sure why the question of how much Facebook users would pay to use it gets such short thrift - compared with the rest of the hand-waving measures, that seems like a pretty good one. Presumably hardly anyone in the US is going to pay $7.25 an hour, but they might pay $1 a day? $100 a year? Still makes quite a large total, however valueless Facebook might seem to me.

  9. Google

    So, what about the effect of Facebooking making people unhappy?*

    How will we factor that into our unicorn numbers?

    Is Tim saying whatever I'm doing it adds $minimum_wage_rate to the GDP?

    *http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21583593-using-social-network-seems-make-people-more-miserable-get-life

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    40c an hour?

    "It's just nonsense to value people's time at under 40 cents an hour."

    Errmm...no,...not really. I think valuing people's time using FB at about 1 cent per hour is probably quite reasonable. Just because people do something doesn't make it economically valuable. How many hours a year do Americans spend pleasuring themselves? How much is that worth to the economy?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: 40c an hour?

      Depends on what equipment they have, whether its recorded, and what the selling price rises to.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: 40c an hour?

      How many hours a year do Americans spend pleasuring themselves?

      Less than the French.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 40c an hour?

      "It's just nonsense to value people's time at under 40 cents an hour."

      It certainly is. I would suggest that most "facebooking" happens outside of work, or at least a significant portion of it, so it then becomes recreation, which is consumption, so if anything that would take from GDP, not add to it.

      The only way you can value a persons time in monetary terms is if they are producing, hence adding to GDP, or being non-productive when they could be producing "work". For example, I enjoying repairing things so if I spend a couple of hours fixing something I could replace for £5, have a wasted money by spending 2x£20/hr fixing it? Of course not. I'd have been vegged out in front of the telly, or going for a walk, or interacting with family or friends. At no point would I be earning wages outside of work time, but my quality of life is improved if I do something I enjoy. You cannot measure that in cash.

      The sort of people who measure all of their time, 24x7, in terms of their hourly pay rate when at work are the people who live on shitty take outs and ready meals because that's cheaper than spending an hour cooking a nice meal, right?

      1. oolor
        Facepalm

        Re: 40c an hour?

        >...because that's cheaper than spending an hour cooking a nice meal, right?

        That, my good sir, is how humanity has been convincing itself of how awesome life is by all the extra entertainment they can purchase and live vicariously through rather than eating real food. It is a shame that in western countries people consume such utter shit (media and food) and yet pretend that they are well off because they are doing less physical work.

        And don't worry if lifestyle contributes to health woes, there are medications for that. Do you know how much they are worth? Must be at least a gazillion dollars when trickle-down is calculated. Forget Toilette & Douchbaggery, that is some Magic Quadrant shit there.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Congrats to Tim...

    ...for crafting a cunningly disguised version of the broken windows fallacy.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Congrats to Tim...

      the broken windows fallacy

      For a fallacy, much of New York found it remarkably efficient and workable under mayor Giuliani.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Congrats to Tim...

        Some did, the ones who owned windows. For others whose only interaction with the police was continually being hassled since childhood for minor events it has created an attitude which now requires the police to buy armed personnel carriers to carry out community policing in many communities.

        Of course the "no broken windows" attitude to economic/white collar crime did prevent Enron, Madoff and the financial meltdown

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: Congrats to Tim...@YAAC

          Your continual "harrassment" by police likely had more to do with your criminal activity. Littering and Vandalism are still criminal "events" no matter how minor you want to make them seem.

          The ones who had windows wanted to keep them; unbroken. You wanted to break them, that makes you a criminal. The police have every right to enforce the law, you do NOT have the right to resist arrest. If you resist arrest, expect that the police will make sure that you know how stupid that idea was. Peaceful protests are one thing but deliberate Arson, Looting, gunfire, major vandalism deserve all the punishment available for those criminals, including being shot dead.

          By the way, look at all the "Militarization" (SWAT Teams, Fully Automatic Weapons, bullet proof vests, masks, helmets, armed personnel carriers) that is present all around Europe right now. Got any snide comments on that? Thought not. You are just anti-American like the rest of the cowardly bastards.

          As long as the banks and investment companies exist, there will be economic criminal activity but there have been quite a few high profile arrests and incarcerations. Hopefully those will give some a reason to think twice. But there aren't any similar "broken windows" to tip off the regulatory agencies in the same way as you think.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Congrats to Tim...@YAAC

            Everyone commits criminal activity. The person most recently illegally killed by the NYPD was selling individual cigarattes on the street - hardly a clear and present danger to the people of NY.

            Suppose the same broken window had applied on Wall St. Everyone over claiming a home-office deduction, putting more than 3 meals a day on expenses when travelling or claiming mileage for a visit to a client starting from home instead of from the office - had been arrested, subsequently lost their job and possibly been chocked to death. then there might have been a different opinion on it's "success"

            It might also have reduced the level of financial crimes. After all if you claim tax back on a coffee you might be willing to rig the libor rate!

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Congrats to Tim...@YAAC

              The person most recently illegally killed by the NYPD was selling individual cigarattes on the street - hardly a clear and present danger to the people of NY.

              Nobody has been illegally killed. I presume you understand the killed part of the term, so it's the legal part you're struggling with.

              Committing any arrestable offence justifies arrest. Resisting arrest will get you hurt; as hurt as you need to be to facilitate that arrest. That's just a fact, and it's a fact that has been the same the world over since the concept of arrest was first deployed. There's no criminality behind the police arresting you.

              Just don't commit crime. How hard can that really be? Now sure, I break the law. Everybody does. For me that begins and ends at speeding, which is a civil offence NOT a criminal one, and so is not a crime and is not arrestable.

              1. Swarthy Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: Congrats to Tim...@YAAC

                Just don't commit crime. How hard can that really be?
                Well, givenof the propensity for vague new laws and the widening definition of certain crimes, I'd say it is becoming more and more difficult not to commit a crime.

      2. Dan Paul

        Re: Congrats to Tim...

        Have an upvote for that moment of lucidity!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Congrats to Tim...

      Doctor Syntax,

      No it isn't. If you break windows then repair them, at the end of the day you have the same thing, mended windows.

      Before Facebook you didn't have the benefit of the fun [spit!] you get using Facebook. Seeing as Facebook has replaced certain activities for some people, by definition it has increased their overall utiltiy. But their costs have remained the same, as it's not costing them anything. Therefore there's a consumer surplus in there somewhere, although it's impossible to measure.

      If charging 10c an hour to use FB made people go back to watching telly, or scratching their arses, or whatever they did with that time beforehand - then we'd be able to value it at 10c an hour. Quite a hard experiment to do though.

  12. FunkyEric

    Is FB worth anything?

    If FB was removed from the internet tomorrow would we be any worse off financially? I wouldn't be, and neither would the vast majority of people. So therefore it is worthless. Which we all knew anyway ;-)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about

    Those poor saps faced with the various in-house incarnations of Faecebook.

    Someone, somehwere, has truly done a marketing job based on nothing more than a variation on the Kings New Clothes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: in-house incarnations of Faecebook.

      Gawd. I've worked on those. Design spec: we want a social communication website for our staff, something like Facebook, but not Facebook. Every client thinks they are special, nobody thinks an off-the-shelf product will work for them.

  14. gr00001000
    Big Brother

    Going the same way as

    Friends reunited

  15. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Valuing entertainment generally...

    Facebook is in fact no different to TV, it's entertainment funded by ads, people actually pay for TV full of adverts too of course, on top of the advertising.

    So if we did the same calculation average american spending 8 hours a day watching TV, then presumably TV comes in as more beneficial to the human race than the entirety of Europe?

    Facebook, is no different to other forms of entertainment and can be valued in exactly the same way.

    1. John Miles 1

      Re: Valuing entertainment generally - Work or Play?

      Agree Facebook is similar to TV - an entertainment activity and should be valued on the same basis. Wrong to value as work since some of remuneration is to compensate for the fact that we have to work, not that we simply want to. Conversely, no one is being paid to use Facebook.

      Average UK person watches 3 - 4 hrs TV per day (apparently), approx 100 hrs per month. The average Pay TV bill is about £50 per month, so value placed on watching 'valued' TV is about 50p per hour (or 12-15p if you are BBC/Freeview only watcher). That is not too far away from the 40c per hour value placed on Facebook. Multiplying 'TV spend' by 32B hours gives £16B or $25B. Much closer to the $12B figure given.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Valuing entertainment generally - Work or Play?

        I'm not sure about your 32bn, I think that's from the article for US consumers of facebook, so should be 3 or 4 times higher for TV and most TV has advertising as well as a subscription so the 50p is too low (although it seems a little high in the first place).

        In all, I think the TV figure would come out at more than $250bn around 20 times the value of facebook to the world.

        I have my doubts on both.

  16. DM79

    A Funny comparison

    Oh, man what a funny comparison. BTW will anybody go to win 10 event today?

  17. Anomalous Cowshed

    Conclusion

    Just like McDonalds and chain smoking make a net negative contribution to their victims' health, so does Facebook make a negative contribution to the world's economy, by reducing the time people spend actually working, reading, learning or doing something else of use to them or society. This negative contribution is indeed huge. How many millions of jobs could be saved or created, if people were not spending ages tapping on their mobile phones or laptops and filling their minds with mass-produced drivel?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Conclusion

      If everyone was rational (and economics were simple) everyone would work exactly as many hours as required to pay for their desired levels of housing, bills, food and leisure activity. This would be a lifetime calculation, and of course would include taxes, savings and a pension. Obviously that calculation is bloody impossible, and anyway there aren't that many 32.7 hour contracts out there, and none of us can predict the future.

      However that's the theory. So no, people wouldn't do some useful work if they weren't on Facebook. Economics tells us that they'd spend that time doing something else they found slightly less fun, and so their overall level of utility would be slightly less. Common sense, and human nature, tells us that if they're doing FB on company time then if FB disappeared overnight, they'd waste that time some other way. LIke posting on El Reg, for example.

  18. adnim Silver badge

    Depends on what one values

    If I owned Facebook I would sell it and do something useful or fun, hopefully both instead.

    This isn't to say that Facebook is of no use, far from it, but there are many alternatives for communicating with those one actually cares about that doesn't involve sharing ones most intimate details with an advertising network. Of course if one wants to brag to strangers it is the perfect platform.

    Perhaps Mr Zuckerberg is having too much fun running Facebook, perhaps he thinks it is genuinely useful or perhaps the kudos and the dollars keep him at it?

  19. DaneB
    Mushroom

    Dreaming?

    Can't wait to see FB go down the pan and wipe that milky weird smile off Zuck's warped head.

  20. strum

    Hmmm

    >One obvious way of doing this is to look at the time people spend on it. ..So the average US user spending 40 minutes a day assigns some value to the time spent doing so. And there're 133 million Americans apparently doing that. Now what we need is to give a value to that time.

    You also need to calculate the opportunity cost - what could that time be spent doing, if you weren't wasting it on FB?

  21. Dogsauce

    Like many 'wealth creators' they've simply taken business from elsewhere, largely from place like local newspapers which are dying on their arse. They know this, which is why they commission deceitful validating puffery like this to make themselves feel better about it.

  22. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Not everyone hates work

    We'd all much prefer being able to consume without having to work

    Bullshit. Work - proper work, engaged and constructive labor - is one of the key means of self-actualization and critically important to a satisfactory existence, once more-pressing needs are met. No doubt many people never reach the point of psychological development where they understand that, and many more never have the opportunity to work at a fulfilling job. But among the rest, not all of us are lazy slugs, either.

    Time to review your Maslow, Tim. Or Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

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