“Do you pay attention to ads and sponsored posts on Facebook?” a friend asked me a few days ago.
“Why? Not much, I guess,” I answered. “Got my ad blocker on, so it’s not a problem. Sure, sponsored posts appear in the newsfeed from time to time. Sometimes they are targeted in a hilariously wrong manner, reporting them can even be fun”.
“From time to time, huh?” my friend mused. “Find a sponsored post and count how many posts there’ll be till the next one.”
“Well, here’s one, then… one, two, three, four. Hey, another sponsored post.”
“One, two, three, four, meaning?”
“Yeah. Every fifth post you’re seeing in your newsfeed on Facebook is an add disguised as relevant content. And until one starts paying attention, it doesn’t seem like there is as much ad noise as we’re really seeing.”
* * *
The news hit hard. I wasn’t too surprised to find out that Instagram feed does the same (every 5th post is an ad). Twitter was better, I counted to 20, didn’t encounter a sponsored Tweet and decided that was enough counting and scrolling for one evening.
And still — every 5th post? Not a tragedy, but a very good incentive to reconsider the amount of screen time dedicated to social media. Which is one of the reasons this site came into being.