The Tyranny of Analytics

In the social media age, the measurability and commoditization of content, in the form of traffic, clicks, and likes, has tethered editorial strategy to analytics like never before. The emphasis on quantifiable metrics stacks the news cycle with stories most likely to generate the highest level of engagement possible, across as many platforms as possible. Things traveling too far, too fast, with too much emotional urgency, is exactly the point, but these are also the conditions that can create harm.
From Executive Summary: The Tyranny of Analytics, in The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators Online by Whitney Phillips, Data & Society, May 2018
I think that in general we have a pathological response to anything we measure. We tend not to measure the thing we care about; we tend to measure something that indicates its presence. It’s often very hard to measure the thing that you’re hoping for.
Cory Doctorow, in an interview with Duke University’s Gerry Canavan about Whuffie and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.