There are digital business models which require an obsession with volume. These business models capture attention and then sell that attention to advertisers. Attention, of course, is an extremely valuable resource today.

“Facebook moderators were instructed not to remove extreme, abusive or graphic content from the platform even when it violated the company's guidelines, an undercover investigation has found,” RTE reported in June 2018.

“While nudity is almost always removed, violent videos involving assaults on children, racially charged hate speech and images of self-harm among underage users all remained on Facebook after being reported by users and reviewed by moderators.”

A particularly shocking video featured in the Channel Four undercover programme “showed an adult man punching and stamping on a screaming toddler,” according to the RTE report. Facebook moderators used this video in training sessions as an example of acceptable content.

We need to understand the Facebook perspective here. One moderator filmed in the programme said: "If you start censoring too much then people stop using the platform. It's all about money at the end of the day."

RTE reported that, “In one training session filmed by Channel Four, the group is shown a cartoon of a woman drowning a young white girl in a bathtub, accompanied by the caption "when your daughter's first crush is a little negro boy." The Facebook trainer explained that such images should be ignored by moderators because they captured a lot of attention.

Learning Opportunities

This is the type of stuff you have to do when you’re obsessed by volume. All your focus needs to be on how you maximize the clicks. How do you create more digital junkies and addicts? The customer’s time and attention are the target of your obsession. You combine attention and profiling information and then package that into a product you sell to advertisers.

That’s the Facebook ‘community’ model. However, most websites should take the exact opposite approach. It is the customer who needs to be treated as the advertiser. When someone searches for “cheap flight Dublin” and if you sell cheap flights to Dublin, then you already have their attention. What you must do now is help them complete their task of buying a cheap flight to Dublin.

On Facebook, people don’t mind wasting their time because they’ve got time to waste. On the vast majority of websites, the last thing they have is time to waste. On Facebook and other media and ‘community’ websites, the customer is the product that is sold to the advertiser.

On websites that sell products and services, the customer is the advertiser that you need to sell to. They are placing ads by how they search, by how they click, indicating what they need. You need to meet their needs as quickly as possible. It is entirely the wrong approach to be trying to engage, interact or convert them. Instead of trying to grab their attention, pay attention to them. Pay attention to what they searched for. Pay attention to their intent. Pay attention to the journey they want to go on. Pay attention to their time. And don’t waste it.