INTERACTIVE: Can Facebook Estimate Better Than You How Rich You Really Are?

Facebook knows it all. 😇

19/11/2016 8:58 PM IST | Updated 01/02/2017 7:29 PM IST
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Buried in a corner of your Facebook account is a little window into whether the all-knowing social media giant has determined that you are rich or middle class.

To help advertisers target better, Facebook makes guesses about its users' interests and behaviours and slots them into categories. In India, one of the most interesting categorisations it makes based on behaviour is to identify two classes of consumers--those with an "Affinity for High Value Goods" (A) and those with an "Affinity for Mid-High Value Goods" (A+B). Log in to Facebook and go here to see how you have been slotted.

Facebook's Audience Insight Tool puts numbers on these categories. In India, 25-30 million people are classified as having an affinity for high value goods and 80-90 million have an affinity for mid-high value goods. For advertisers, these consumer categories translate into the rich and the upper middle class, a number of executives with e-commerce websites said. "The A category is the one buying branded clothes and shoes, including foreign brands. The A+B category we target for Indian brand jeans, phone covers--that sort of thing," one digital marketing executive with an e-commerce website said. He asked to not be named because he is not authorized to speak with the media. Anything above Rs2,500 being sold online is broadly mid-high value, another said, while anything above Rs5,000 is high value.

Odds are, you're in one of these categories. If the A category is roughly the top 2.5% of Indians and A+B corresponds to the top 10%, Facebook might be doing a better job of guessing where you lie on the India's income distribution scale than you.

So Facebook probably thinks you're rich - but are you really? People are notoriously likely to call themselves middle class even when they are not. Since Facebook doesn't have accurate data on the actual incomes of people, we've looked at income data from a household survey. You can test your assumptions about where you stand on the Indian income pyramid with our interactive income scale.

Amazed at the results? Here's a detailed breakdown of India's per capita income distribution.

We've used India's only reliable source of income data--the 2011-12 India Human Development Survey (II), a nationally representative household survey conducted by the University of Maryland and the National Council for Applied Economic Research. All income data is per capita, calculated by dividing household income by the household size, and is annual income data. We've plotted only 99 percentiles, or 99% of the population there because the highest income of the top 1%--25 times that of even the richest person in the 99th percentile--completely skews the graph.

And the odds are, that's exactly where you find yourself.

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