Why Social Media Takes a “Ban First, Ask Questions Later” Approach
While some people are increasingly concerned about (and others cheer) the political implications of censorship on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, few have engaged in any analysis of how things reached this point and why social media companies seem universally of the same mind in designing their policies. Ultimately, though, it stems from the nature of the current social media business model itself.
Social media companies from Facebook and Twitter to Reddit and Tumblr earn their revenue almost exclusively from advertisement space sold to put ads in front of the users. Typically, these show up as “sponsored posts” or are called out more directly as advertisements on scrolling timelines and “news feeds.” The precise mechanisms are less important than the revenue model itself, however. What is being sold is access to the user, particularly their attention as measured in the form of views and clicks.
These ads are, naturally, more valuable the more people will see them. This essentially boils down to two conditions: (1) more users are scrolling down more timelines and/or (2) each user is spending more time on the platform. As far as the social media business goes, these are the primary metrics to rely upon, and this is why statistics like “daily active users” (DAU) or “peak concurrent users” (PCU) are bandied about to demonstrate how much “engagement” is available to advertisers. (Twitter even goes a step further and records stats like “timeline views per monthly active user.”) These two conditions, and these alone, essentially play out in a sort of social media lifecycle.
In the early, heady days of a new social media platform, the most important metric of growth is in condition (1). They need you to sign up. They need you to get your friends to sign up. They need those friends to get their friends to sign up, and so on. Expanding the number of users, particularly the ones who use the platform regularly to check in with their friends, is the primary means of expansion for a young social media company, and it therefore do
Article from Mises Wire