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It’s important to understand the consequences of the ubiquity of “share” and “like” buttons. Namely, analytics. The documentary discusses primarily a content provider’s interest in shares and likes, and how the content providers almost trick the consumers into doing marketing for them. However, there’s yet another level of analytics that’s often invisible even to these content providers. They, the content providers, are being tricked into widening the reach of social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Every time a “like” or “share” button is embedded in a webpage, that social media site is able to register any individuals (so long as they are logged in to the social media account, and they almost always are because those cookies rarely or never expire) who visited that site. Thus, social media websites have likely the most comprehensive data on consumers’ web browser history. I’m not too personally concerned with my web privacy, but I think this fact is often overlooked when people consider the degree to which their browsing behavior is private (see: media and public’s response to PRISM).

I’m curious as to whether there could possibly be a steep downfall to the “generation like”. Is it just that? A generation? I’ve understood the appeal personally (in user counts though, rather than likes or shares), and it’s a powerful appeal. But ultimately, it is and feels superficial. There’s serious “like” inflation: while it may appear as though high “like” counts are impressive, users are probably “liking” a large fraction of the content they’re exposed to, which in turn dilutes the value of each “like”.

I’ll end with a paraphrased quote, and I hope the reader can recognize the original: a single like is a blessing; a million likes is a statistic.