The carbon footprint of social networks
Sending a photo via your smartphone, checking the news feed of your favorite app, watching a video on YouTube, some of your daily digital activities can be energy intensive... And not always neutral in greenhouse gas emissions. In a study published in 2021, Greenspector evaluated the carbon footprint of a selection of social networks. For each application, the level of emissions was estimated by taking into account the consumption of resources (volume of data exchanged) and energy, measured during a user scenario lasting one minute on a Galaxy S7 smartphone. The user scenario corresponded to scrolling through the content of an active account's news feed.
The social network whose news feed viewing has the highest ecological impact is TikTok, with an emission level of nearly 5 grams of CO2 equivalent per minute. This is more than 2 times the average measured for the ten selected applications and about 7 times more than YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.
According to the authors of this study, TikTok's relatively high level of emissions is linked to the fact that this platform is based exclusively on video viewing and that content is pre-loaded in the news feed as soon as the app is launched.
Reference to the study: https://greenspector.com/fr/reseaux-sociaux-2021/