When we talk about the harms of social media, we tend to focus on psychological problems related to body image or money. But there is also a hidden environmental cost to our daily scrolling habits.
It takes a huge amount of energy to store all those cat videos and photos of your mates’ latest culinary experiments. The result is a surprisingly large volume of CO2 emissions – most of which users are unaware of.
But not every platform emits equally. BanklessTimes.com has gathered data on several top social media brands to discover how the environmental impact compares between platforms.
- One minute on TikTok produces 2.63g CO2e. That’s more than twice as much as Instagram (1.05g); three times more than Facebook (0.79g); and five times more than Youtube (0.46g).
- Facebook boasts the most daily active users – 1.96 billion. The average user spends 30.1 minutes on the platform each day, producing a total of 46,797 tonnes CO2e per day.
- TikTok boasts less than half as many users. But their users spend 50% longer on the platform each day – and emit three times more for every minute they use it. As a result, a conservative estimate finds that the platform produces 40,151 tonnes CO2e per day.
- Both Facebook and TikTok produce enough CO2e each year to fly the entire population of London to New York and back.
While the popularity of a social media platform matters, there are other factors to consider. Both YouTube and Facebook boast considerably larger user bases than TikTok. But TikTok emits three more CO2e per minute of use than Facebook – and five times more than YouTube.
Equally, users spend 50% more time on both YouTube and TikTok than they do on Facebook. As a result, the companies’ overall carbon emissions are somewhat surprising given their differing scales.