- Mark Zuckerberg once suggested that developers pay something to the tune of $US0.10 USD per year for access to a user’s Facebook data.
- He made this suggestion in an internal email, dated October 2012, released by the British Parliament on Wednesday as part of an investigation into fake news on Facebook and elsewhere.
- It was part of a conversation about how Facebook could make money from its platform for app developers.
- On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said in a statement that this suggestion was merely about monetizing access to the Facebook platform, not selling user data directly: “We’ve never sold anyone’s data,” he said.
To Mark Zuckerberg, your data may only be worth 10 cents a year.
In 2012, Facebook’s CEO suggested that the company charge developers 10 cents a year to access the friend lists and other personal data of its users, according an email message released by the British Parliament on Wednesday as part of a larger cache of internal Facebook documents.
Zuckerberg was discussing ways the company could make money from its so-called platform business, which allowed programmers to use data from the social network and build Facebook features into their apps.
“I’ve been thinking about [the] platform business model a lot this weekend … if we make it so [developers] can generate revenue for us in different ways, then it makes it more acceptable for us to charge them quite a bit more for using [the] platform,” he said in the email dated October 7, 2012.
A possible model for charging developers, he continued, might be structured so that “login with Facebook is always free. Pushing content to Facebook is always free. Reading anything, including friends, costs a lot of money. Perhaps on the order of $US0.10/user each year.”
Developers could pay those costs directly to Facebook, he said in the email. Alternatively, they could could cover those costs by buying ads on its social network, running ads from Facebook in their apps, using its payment system, or selling items in its store.
“The basic idea is that any other revenue you generate for us earns you a credit towards whatever fees you own us for using plaform,” he said in the email. “For most developers this would probably cover cost completely.”
The email was part of a trove of documents Parliament seized from app maker Six4Three last month. Parliament member Damian Collins order their seizure and approved their release after Zuckerberg refused on multiple occassions to testify about issues related to the leak of data on millions of Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica and because he thought they were in the public interest.
In a statement, issued on Facebook on Wednesday after the publication of the documents, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company considered charging developers for access to its platform as a way to defray the costs involved in running that service. But he argued that was different than charging them for access to users’ data, saying instead that it would have been akin to how developers are charged for using cloud services such as Amazon Web Services. He also placed part of the blame on Apple for its restrictions on the iOS platform.
“We’ve never sold anyone’s data,” he said.
Facebook has been under fire for much of the last two years, and particularly in the last six months since news broke of the Cambridge Analytica data leak.
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