The Actual Costs Of Free Services

“A recent study offered people different cash amounts in exchange for giving up Facebook for a month. Based on the responses, they then estimated its average annual value to the consumer at around $750. A simpler survey in the same study (without real cash offers) suggested that on average people value free search engines at $16,600 per year, maps at $2,800 and video at $900.”

Nothing’s actually free, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to calculate the cost of everything.

The Economist explains why the “free” economy comes at a cost and breaks down how economists are struggling to assess whether people get fair value for the data and attention they give to free services like social networks and search engines.