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Calculation experiment shows how much money social networks earn from our screen time - per minute, day, month and year.

In just a few years, social media platforms have radically changed lives. They have become a means of communication, a news channel, a TV, a diary, a dating site, and a virtual meeting place.

Two-thirds of Germans use one or more offerings from the big players Google, Meta, Twitter, and TikTok every day.

The regular offer of the best-known social networks is free of charge for users, and yet the Internet giants make annual sales in the billions. Meta, for example, ended its 2021 fiscal year with $118 billion in revenue. In the same period, TikTok turned over more than 58 billion U.S. dollars and Twitter generated around five billion U.S. dollars in revenue.

How such sums are possible is no longer a secret. The platforms finance themselves predominantly through the sale of target group-specific advertising placements and the commercial exploitation of their users' data. Some social networks also sell data records directly to third parties. The platforms grant themselves the right to do so in their terms of use.

The billions in sales already make it clear how valuable our personal data is.

Consumers are part of a modern barter system. Comprehensive, digital tracking against the free use of the platforms.

Private data as a goldmine: Balance sheets provide information about sales per user

Personal data is the new gold, and that's why the boom in social networks and media is the gold rush of the 21st century. This leads us to the question, what is my data worth? How much money do companies like Meta, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat earn with their users and with every minute they spend on the platform? Information and figures hidden deep in the companies' quarterly reports and balance sheets shed light on this. Our data analysts at heyData have taken a close look at these and read out the so-called Average Revenue per User (ARPU). On this basis and with the help of other data, such as average screen time, we were able to publish a small calculation experiment that shows how much the social media and networks earn with our data and thus also answer the question: What is our data worth?

This is how much our data is worth

After one year of tracking and with an average screen time, Meta's platforms market the acquired personal data of a user for about 200 euros.

● With every minute a user spends on Facebook or Instagram, the platforms earn about two cents.

● Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat require users to stay on the platform for at least two minutes to earn one cent. Youtube even requires five minutes of screen time to convert one cent.

● Users who spend more than 33 minutes a day on Facebook or more than 29 minutes a day on Instagram generate higher revenues for Meta. For this reason, social networks try to keep their users on the platform as long as possible. Meta earns about two cents per minute of its users' screen time.

● Meta has perfected the marketing of personal data, as a comparison of annual revenues in particular shows. While Facebook and Instagram generate around 200 euros per user per year, TikTok currently generates just under 66 euros, Twitter around 54 euros, and YouTube just under 29 euros per year and user.


● Average daily usage of platforms in minutes: eMarketer (data from 2017-2022), Digital 2022: Global Overview Report

● Average Revenue per User (ARPU): Facebook: Meta Earnings Presentation Q2 2022), Instagram: Own calculations based on Insider Intelligence, Datareportal "Instagram Statistics and Trends", TikTok: Insider Intelligence/ eMarketer, Twitter: Insider Intelligence/ eMarketer, YouTube: Own calculation based on seekingalpha, alphabet Q2/2022 quarterly report, Insider Intelligence and Digital 2022: Global Overview Report, Snapchat: Snap Inc. Q4/2021 quarterly report.

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