You Can Get Paid $8 Per Month for Your Personal Data

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 13 2014 11:10 AM

You Can Get Paid $8 Per Month for Your Personal Data

Datacoup will pay users real money for access to their social media accounts and credit/debit transactions.

Photo by Datacoup.

Sometimes it feels like everyone except you is profiting from your browsing history and social media habits. But now you can get $8 per month to give a new startup called Datacoup access to your social media accounts and your credit/debit transactions. In this case, taking some power back means formally giving data away.

Datacoup's plan is to scrub your information of personal details, process it, and then sell analysis of trends in the data to companies looking to understand different markets or online consumer behaviors. Currently the service is in beta tests, and 1,500 people have signed up to sell their info, though no one has bought data yet.


The company's CEO and cofounder Matt Hogan told MIT Tech Review, “If a consumer wants to make an educated decision, they should be able to sell their data to who they want.” And Datacoup is even thinking of expanding so customers can sell their search histories or data from lifelogging devices if they want to.

Hogan says that the reason it's more valuable to buy Datacoup's data than to get it from other sources is that Datacoup can directly link online activity and spending. “There’s no way to do that other than from the user themselves,” Hogan says. But from the individual user's perspective Datacoup is a mixed bag. It has an element of increased agency to it because users seek Datacoup out instead of being forced to agree to terms that include data mining if they want to use a particular service, as with Google products for example. But they can't control what will happen to their data once it's collected, and there could be unforeseen consequences.

For example, if Datacoup data showed that many of the service's users are loyal customers at a certain store, that store might send fewer discount codes to anyone who is a Datacoup customer, knowing that most of them would continue to shop there anyway. Furthermore, poor and disenfranchised people will presumably be the most tempted to sacrifice some privacy for monthly compensation whether or not this is in their best interest long term.

If things go well, other companies will probably offer similar deals and the monthly compensation for data could go up. The idea of selling personal data isn't new. People have calculated how much they think they should be compensated by companies like Twitter and other major social networks that collect data all the time. One guy even tried to sell his personal data on Kickstarter. But real progress will involve people using their power to withhold personal data as leverage to demand greater transparency from the companies doing the collection and analysis.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?