Basically, this boils down to “are we willing to pay – either with our privacy (the coin of the online realm) or in actual ca$h dinero – for the relentless stream of information to be filtered down to stuff that we actually want to see, or that we need to see?” 

Interesting that Megan McArdle comes to this via an experiment to boost her Facebook engagement levels. 

Here’s the nut grafs: 

But after a decade out in the open, we are moving back behind walls. More and more we’re using gatekeepers like Google and Facebook to contain the chaos. Doing so serves their purposes—but it also serves ours. In a 2012 Pew Survey, 21 percent of Americans reported getting news from Twitter or Facebook in the last day, and the number is only increasing; the Atlantic Media Group recently reported that almost half its traffic comes from social media.

Complain as we might about privacy violations and the invisible hand and all that, the reason this is happening is because, in some sense, we want it to. We’re the ones herding onto Facebook and Twitter to get our news rather than using older, more open technologies like RSS readers. We’re the ones who have chosen to let their algorithms aggregate for us what, in the dizzying world of Internet content, we would otherwise have to uncover for ourselves. We’re the ones who complain bitterly whenever anyone on the Internet tries to charge for anything. But how did we think all those servers and Web developers would be paid?