Social Media Companies Need Our Outrage and Hate

I saw a lament today that Twitter doesn't work to create a safe space on their community to prevent vitriol and hate. And I find it unsurprising.

Twitter is the wild west of social media. There are nearly no rules and no barriers to creating new accounts. So it's not surprising that some users feel free to heap abuse on others with no fear of penalty.

Twitter (and Facebook) have every incentive to let outrage, hate, and vitriol happen. To be an effective advertising platform (or user impression data mine) you need a system with active users. Outrage drives traffic and keeps people engaged longer and gives the outraged reactor the illusion that they have done something meaningful. (Just consider how much time you spend crafting a response to something you think is wrong compared to something uplifting and or cute. There is a reason Facebook only had a "Like" button and a reply button for ages.)

CNN and Fox News make a business of scaring the crap out of people to sell advertisements. They thrive on tragedy. Now, these are broadcast media so an analogy is going to be limited when comparing with social media. But I think the dynamic is the same if you substitute tragedy with controversy or outrage.

Right or wrong, that's my opinion on a common dynamic with social media companies. They want us to troll one another. They don't care about what kind of world they create. That's our job.

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