enshittification

The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok | Cory Doctorow

Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a “two-sided market,” where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them. 

A scathing and utterly compelling treatise, dedicated chiefly to pointing out the comprehensively obvious fact — which hundreds of millions of people seem determined not to face — that TikTok obeys the same enshittifying logic as every other social media platform: “TikTok … is just another paperclip-maximizing artificial colony organism that treats human beings as inconvenient gut flora. TikTok is only going to funnel free attention to the people it wants to entrap until they are entrapped, then it will withdraw that attention and begin to monetize it.” Ergo: “It’s too late to save TikTok. Now that it has been infected by enshittifcation, the only thing left is to kill it with fire.” Q.E.D.