Our data is worth a lot of money to giant companies like Facebook. What is it worth to us? As awareness of the value of our data grows, will the public pay to keep it safe and private?

This article at NYTimes.com asks whether paid social media could replace the ‘free’ model, much as Netflix and other movie streaming services have largely replaced movie pirating.

What We Want and What We Do

According to a recent study published by the Pew Research Center, 93% of the public believes that “being in control of who can get information about them is important.” The public doesn’t want to keep all of their data private, all of the time, but they want to prevent others from getting it without their consent. They want to be able to decide for themselves what is and is not safe use.

Psychological studies suggest that people are willing to pay more for a product when using credit than when using cash. A similar principle seems to apply here — we’re willing to give away our valuable information now. It’s only later that we realize what it was worth to us. We receive Facebook or an app for free in return for giving away our data, viewing ads, and being offered in-app purchases.

What Can It Hurt?

As of 2013, only 10% of mobile apps used the subscription model. If a startup company doesn’t appear to be giving something away, they may not get off the ground.

But these companies, such as Facebook and Instagram, are now well-established. If I wanted to keep my data private, control the information I see, and forgo the ads, what does it hurt Facebook to let me subscribe?

Currently, Facebook makes $0.20 per user per month, in return for providing 20 hours of service.

Even $0.10 per hour would be a 9 times premium over what Facebook receives today from advertisers.

Facebook, take my money and let me keep my data.