The Economist: Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis.. “An economy based on attention is easily gamed.”
“Facebook and Google account for about 40% of America’s digital content consumption, according to Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research, a data provider[.]
Adult Americans who use Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp spend around 20 hours a month on the three services. Overall, Americans touch their smartphones on average more than 2,600 times a day (the heaviest users easily double that). The population of America farts about 3m times a minute. It likes things on Facebook about 4m times a minute.
The average piece of content is looked at for only a few seconds. But it is the overall paying of attention, not the specific information, that matters. The more people use their addictive-by-design social media, the more attention social-media companies can sell to advertisers—and the more data about the users’ behaviour they can collect for themselves. It is an increasingly lucrative business to be in. On November 1st Facebook posted record quarterly profits, up nearly 80% on the same quarter last year. Combined, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, control half the world’s digital advertising.”