In the digital vortex where corporations and individuals collide, a deepening crisis is unfolding—the toxic engagement in social media. According to Naomi Nix and Sarah Ellison of the Washington Post, social media giants are demoting their redoubtable content policing efforts, surrendering to a rampant blitzkrieg of disinformation and online abuse. The cause? An unswerving faith in 'engagement metrics'. Shadowing this view, Cambridge University psychologists hint at the dark allure of negative posts, their higher engagement often subtly nudging platforms to ignore their harmful impact.

Ironically, researches—from industry pioneers like the Association for Consumer Research and the Kellogg School of Management—point to positive experiences as better catalysts for ad conversion, the underpinning revenue model of most social platforms. However, the matrix of quality content and positive experience is tangled in the cobwebs of entrenched practices, namely untempered engagement. The result? Worrying levels of harm, abuse, and a palpable apathy towards trust and safety.

These disconcerting trends aren’t lost on brands and advertisers. Vox's Shirin Ghaffary reports that "X", a platform hemorrhaging its advertising revenue, is projected to lose roughly $2 billion this year, partly due to its lax stance on harmful speech. While the EU Digital Service Act provides a regulatory framework to address these issues, bypassing toxic engagement requires an ideological shift rather than mere compliance.

Optimism, however, glimmers on the horizon. Emerging platforms like "T2" are embracing safety, underlining the business value of quality predicated engagement. The financial health of brands, their reputation, and ultimately the sanity of the digital populace clamor for this change. Overfocusing on raw engagement numbers is a draconian strategy that's no longer feasible. Unlearning and reorienting the approach to engagement is a shared responsibility—for corporations, marketers, and individuals alike.

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