Would the Internet Be Healthier Without 'Like' Counts?
Social channels have moved to obscure measures of popularity to reduce toxicity
Online, value is quantifiable. The worth of a person, idea, movement, meme, or tweet is often based on a tally of actions: likes, retweets, shares, followers, views, replies, claps, and swipes-up, among others.
Each is an individual action. Together, though, they take on outsized meaning. A YouTube video with 100,000 views seems more valuable than one with 10, even though views—like nearly every form of online engagement—can be easily bought. It’s a paradoxical love affair. And it’s far from an accident.
Increased engagement is good for business, and the impulse to check the score is an easy way to keep users coming back. As Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey put it at last year’s WIRED25 conference: “Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up,” and to get more followers.
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