What is it about?

The digital transformation of advertising on social media has resulted in an online marketplace for attention in which traditional news providers compete with social media influencers. This has had a commercially devastating effect on local news providers. In addition, it catalyzed the rapid circulation of disinformation. To be precise, social media platforms have economic incentives to maximize engagement. Their business model nudges content creators to publish controversial and charged messages for clicks and likes because provocative content is financially valuable. Since controversial and emotional content is highly engaging, it is unsurprising that creators publish it. However, this kind of content facilitates the spread of manipulated or intentionally harmful information by malicious actors, whether domestic or foreign. Ultimately, disinformation thrives in a marketplace for clicks where social media, memes, and bots are strategically used to make content appear more popular in order to capture advertising revenue.

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Why is it important?

There is a financial incentive for most platforms to maximize online engagement, which means that any content, factual or not, that receives clicks, likes, and comments is highly valued.


The current social media business model nudges content creators to post and distribute controversial and toxic content for profit. By changing social media’s financial incentives and increasing oversight of the use of user data for targeted advertising, we can reclaim the democratic oversight over social media platforms to counter violent radicalization and reduce hate speech without using censorship.

Carlos Diaz Ruiz
Hanken Svenska Handelshogskolan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Disinformation on digital media platforms: A market-shaping approach, New Media & Society, October 2023, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/14614448231207644.
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