Imagine you’re a cookie mogul. You figured out a way to make lots of money by giving away delicious cookies for free, and in less than a decade, you created a global cookie behemoth.
But recently your cookie kingdom has begun to crumble. Scientists are worried that people are eating so many of your cookies that they’re making themselves sick — yet they keep eating more, because who can say no to free cookies? There are concerns that your cookies are crowding out the market for normal food; after your success, fruit and vegetable companies have pivoted to free cookies, and now much of the global food supply is just cookies. Rising cookie addiction might even have helped a foreign government influence your country’s election.
So you decide to do something. You convene your best bakers, and you tell them, look, from now on, we don’t just care about how many free cookies we can shove into people’s gullets. We want to take a holistic look at the overall cookie experience. We want people to eat some cookies, sure, but we don’t want them to eat too many, so we will have to make our free cookies less addictive and more “meaningful.” Let’s maybe put carrots and kale and broccoli in the cookies.
What sort of cookie company wants people to eat fewer cookies?
Facebook faces complex questions over its prioritization of “meaningful” content in the News Feed, including whether people want that kind of content in the first place.