Facebook Users Would Have to Pay to Opt Out of Targeted Ads, Says COO Sheryl Sandberg

There’s an outstanding rumor that Facebook users would have to pay in order to keep using the service. While this rumor has been going on for years, it might soon find itself becoming a truth if Sheryl Sandberg’s recent interviews are to be believed.

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer is on a media blitz trying to do some damage control after the data breach that affected a staggering 87 million users. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has already given interviews about the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and is set to testify before Congress next week.

Sandberg recently appeared on NBC for a sit-down interview and was asked by Savannah Guthrie if Facebook could develop a tool, like an opt-out button, that allows users to specifically inform the company that they don’t want their personal profile information to be used for advertising.

Sandberg said that while the social media giant has various forms of opt-out, they “don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. If the company would ever develop such a tool, it would likely be a paid product.

However, there’s no concrete indication that Facebook has plans to roll out such a feature. But what makes Sandberg’s answer more interesting is how it more or less confirms what everyone knows—that the company’s revenue lies almost exclusively on keeping an eye on its account holder’s behavior and preferences. And if one were to take away that option, the only recourse for the company is to replace ad sales with subscriptions.

Sandberg also emphasized that selling user data is not how Facebook generates revenue and that the company doesn’t give personal data to advertisers. But she also pointed out that people come to Facebook to do targeted ads which are crucial for small businesses.

“We take those ads, we show them, and we don’t pass any individual information back to the advertiser,” Facebook’s COO said.  

While Facebook does follow a supposedly “free” business model, the company still relies on advertisers to make it a free service. However, these advertisers do require something in exchange – the information that people share.

This information is also becoming increasingly valuable if Facebook’s latest data on average revenue per user is to be believed. Based on the available data from Facebook, American or Canadian users are worth about $26.76 while account holders in Europe cost around $8.86.

[Featured image via CNBC YouTube]

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