Dark Social

Social media is all about sharing. But more and more social sharing isn’t being shared. That is, some content on social networks is being shared with a select audience rather than the general public or all users on a network.

For example, if you are using Snapchat or most messaging applications, your content is probably shared with as few as one other person and perhaps only your own circle of followers. This is not so unusual. You probably have made settings in Facebook so that not all of your posts and photos are visible to the public or even all of your Facebook friends.

I have seen estimates that almost 70 percent of online shares occur in what some people call “dark social.”

That phrase comes out of an earlier one – “dark web” – which is the part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software. Using the dark web allows users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable. That is something that poses new and formidable challenges for law enforcement agencies around the world. These darknets, overlay networks which use the public Internet, which forms a small part of the deep web, the part of the Web not indexed by search engines.

Dark social (a term that doesn’t appear on Wikipedia yet – I did request an article be created a few weeks ago) is the one-to-one and one-to-few social sharing that happens in a space where analytics tools cannot track it.

Businesses may have to explore this area as their customers gravitate more to using it.

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