Dr. Zeynep Tufekci on the Fundamentally Broken Incentive Structure in Social Media Business Models

Russian Meddling Is a Symptom, Not the Disease

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have business models that thrive on the outrageous, the incendiary and the eye-catching, because such content generates “engagement” and captures our attention, which the platforms then sell to advertisers, paired with extensive data on users that allow advertisers (and propagandists) to “microtarget” us at an individual level.

The way social media incentivized divisive, eye-catching (and often factually incomplete if not entirely wrong) posts is a huge problem we don’t talk about or have any idea how to fix. And don’t look to Google and Facebook to fix this problem: to them, this problem is engagement, and makes their platforms more valuable.

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