Burger King has inadvertently set a price on Facebook through their new “Whopper Sacrifice” application, according to Jason Kottke. Facebook users now can cash in on their virtual friendships by deleting 10 friends in exchange for a free Whopper. If the burger costs $2.40, that means each friendship is effectively worth $0.24.
That simple equation puts a number on a question that has plagued tech experts: How much is Facebook worth? There are 150 million users on Facebook, with an average of 100 friends. According to Kottke’s math, this places the overall value of Facebook at $1.8 billion, far lower than the $15 billon assumed when Microsoft invested in the company, but still a fair chunk of change. (For all the work, visit Kottke's blog post.)
The question of how much a Facebook friendship is worth, and who owns those friendships, could define the future of the social networking industry. The July-August issue of Technology Review profiled some of the innovative efforts to place value on social networking sites, and how some of those sites are leveraging social connections to actually make money. Though many assume Facebook to be one of the most successful companies on the internet, according to writer Bryant Urstadt, the company still hasn’t figured out how to use all their attention and social connections to create a real business.