Facebook’s amended IPO filing shows that it did $1.058 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year. If that revenue stays steady, Techcrunch notes, Facebook will make between $4.69 and $4.81 from each of its 901 million monthly active users.
Consider that scale for a second: To Facebook, you represent about a billionth of its revenue-making potential; your individual value to the company is below negligible. But the information you store on the service — your photos, your private messages, you personal history — is priceless, or at least extremely valuable to you. If Facebook loses, damages or leaks your data, it has no effect on them and a tremendous effect on you.
There’s nothing explicitly wrong with this but the contrast is still dizzying. Facebook and Google’s business plans are to hold and make small amounts of money off of people’s most treasured information. They’re like banks for the essental material of humanity, except without the rigorous and tested regulations, the federal insurance, or the decades of proven stability. You get a digital platform to store and share your life; they get a Big Mac Value Meal.