The Dark Social Phenomenon

….the tradeoffs we make on social networks is not the one that we’re told we’re making. We’re not giving our personal data in exchange for the ability to share links with friends.

So writes, Alexis Madrigal, in a piece on The Atlantic technology blog entitled: Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong.

He goes on:

Massive numbers of people — a larger set than exists on any social network — already do that outside the social networks. Rather, we’re exchanging our personal data in exchange for the ability to publish and archive a record of our sharing. That may be a transaction you want to make, but it might not be the one you’ve been told you made.

Madrigal summarises the Dark Social phenomenon as:

  1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it’s easy to measure.
  2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.
  3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.
  4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.

It makes a lot of sense to me that:

….the social sites that arrived in the 2000s did not create the social web, but they did structure it.