You're Worth 40,04 €
You're Worth 40,04 €
You're Worth 40,04 €
You're Worth 40,04 €
Cute Cat Content – Welcome to the Attention Economy


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Facebook generates profit by making you scroll through cat content

When we buy eggs in the supermarket we know the exact price and we at least vaguely understand who we’re paying.

In the world of Big Data this is different. We don’t see the money. We don’t really understand why Facebook wants us to look at cat content as much as possible.

Could you estimate how much a packet of your data costs?

As a rule of thumb, Facebook earns approximately 1ct whenever you are looking at an ad. Other campaigns pay up to 5 € only if you click on the link, or between 5 € and 60 € if you buy something on their website. info_outline

The exact amounts vary enormously depending on complex factors.
For example, if you see an ad for a bank account this might be eight times more expensive than an ad for fashion. And if you're pregnant, you're pure gold.

Facebook says you’re a “user” but really you’re the product

Facebook’s total
revenue in 2019:

62,591,426,347 € info_outline

To reach this revenue, you’d have to collect 8 € from every human on this planet.

According to Facebook, a European user is worth 40.04 € per year on average. info_outline
Only users from the US & Canada are worth more, whereas users from other continents are substantially less valuable.

If users on average spend 38 minutes on Facebook each day – 13,780 minutes per year – we can estimate a revenue of 3 ct for every 10 minutes you spend on Facebook. info_outline
Find out how much time you spend on Facebook here: info_outline

Welcome to the Attention Economy

People using Facebook platforms
at least once a month:

2,990,000,000 info_outline

That’s more than a third of the world population.

Let’s talk about psychology

Facebook is so successful at harvesting and selling your attention because it leverages psychological mechanisms to maximise the time you spend on their platforms. For example, the app sends you frequent notifications and the feed scrolls endlessly so you don’t notice how time flies.

However, at the core of Facebook is another mechanism: variable rewards.


In the 1950s, F. B. Skinner conducted an experiment in which he rewarded pigeons with food every time they pressed a button. The second group of pigeons also was rewarded food, but the amount varied strongly on a random basis.

In this second group, he observed, the pigeons pressed the button much more often than the group with non-variable rewards. Even when they were not hungry they pressed the button – simply because they were hoping for the jackpot. info_outline

In the Facebook feed, the variable reward is not food but content. Will the next post be a boring photo of what a friend of yours had for lunch, a cute video of cats or a photo of your ex? info_outline

It’s like a slot machine.

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These are rather broad estimations, only to give you an idea of the costs of ads on Facebook.

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Just to be clear: Revenue is income, not profit.
Appr. 40% of Facebook’s revenue is profit.

Including all Facebook platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.
(According to Facebook’s Q1’20 Earnings Presentation, accessible via

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Average revenue per Facebook user (ARPU), excluding other Facebook platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram, in the region Europe.

’19, Q3’19, Q4’19 and Q1’20 accumulated.
(According to Facebook’s Q1’20 Earnings Presentation, accessible via

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Multiply the average minutes per day (38 minutes) by 365 days = 13,870 minutes per year spent on Facebook, excluding WhatsApp and Instagram, for an average user.

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On iOS, open Settings and navigate to “Screen Time”, where you can see your daily average for each app.

On Android, you might have to download “Digital Wellbeing” from the Play Store. After installing, open Settings and navigate to “Digital Wellbeing”, where you can see your daily average for each app.

If you want to estimate how much profit Facebook generates from you, keep in mind that the numbers shown on this website are only averages. Your personal value depends on various other factors, such as your interests or your likelihood to click on an ad, for example.

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Monthly active people (MAP) are defined as people who used one of Facebook’s platforms, i. e. Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, at least once within 30 days.

(According to Facebook’s Q1’20 Earnings Presentation, accessible via

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The reason for this is that the brain (more accurately the nucleus accumbens) does not seem to feel pleasure (i. e. release dopamine) when rewarded, but rather in anticipation for a reward. This is the conclusion of an experiment conducted by James Olds and Peter Milner in the 1940s: “The study revealed that what draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for that reward.”

(Nir Eyal in “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products”, Penguin Random House, 2014/2019.)

For more information on how rewards are employed in digital user experience design, read this blog article by Nir Eyal.

You can find an extensive list of psychological mechanisms, used in digital user experience design, here.

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By the way, a reward does not have to leave you in a positive state of mind. Rather, the stronger the emotion – no matter if pleasant or unpleasant – the stronger the reward.
Facebook uses artificial intelligence to constantly optimize the order of the posts shown to you – when to give you a strong or a weak reward, when to make you feel happy and when to make you feel uncomfortable.

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Feel too social?

Social Media lets you take a break from your everyday life and it’s nice to stay connected to your friends.
However, it sometimes can be a little too seductive. If you want to reduce the time you spend online, here are a few tips.

Both, iOS and Android offer functions that support you with this (see below). Still, it will require some commitment from yourself and sometimes can be quite challenging.
If you have the feeling that your online consumption got out of hand, you can ask friends or family for help.
One of several indicators could be that you feel overly stressed when you can't check social media for a while or that you can hardly put your phone aside when you’re with your friends.

In some cases social network consumption can feel like an addiction. You can always ask your doctor or psycho­logist for help.

On iOS, “Screen Time” offers features supporting you reduce your social network consumption. You can set a daily limit for individual apps or websites, after which you will be notified that you’ve reached your limit. You can ask someone to set a password for your “Screen Time” that only they know. Then you will not be able to extend the daily limit without them.
It can be especially helpful to turn off notifications for particular apps or in general. Furthermore, with “Downtime” you can schedule a time of day when only certain apps that you choose are allowed.

On Android, “Digital Wellbeing” offers features supporting you reduce your social network consumption. You might need to download it from the Play Store. After installing, open Settings and navigate to “Digital Wellbeing”. You can now set a daily limit for individual apps or websites, after which you will not be able to use the app until midnight (unless you go to Settings and remove the limit).
It can be especially helpful to turn off notifications for particular apps or in general.

Spread the word

Big Data rules the world – and everybody needs to understand how.

Join our effort:
Sharing this know­ledge now is the most important thing you can do.

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This is a project by graphic design student Dorian "Dodo" Hehn.
He is responsible for the content on this website. You can reach him via e-mail:
The following imprint is in German, because Dodo is German.

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Dorian Hehn
Graphic Designer
Modersohnstraße 62
10245 Berlin, Germany


Telefon: +49 (0) 173 37 62 018

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Dorian Hehn
Modersohnstraße 62
10245 Berlin, Germany


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Cute Cat Content – Welcome to the Attention Economy

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