BuzzFeed Founder Jonah Peretti: On The Social Web, EQ Matters More Than IQ

In a world of Facebook and social sharing, having heart is more important than being smart, according to BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti. Today at Disrupt NY 2013, Peretti discussed the difference between activity that exists on social sites like Facebook versus what people are searching for in non-social situations.

Because of the way people use the social web, tapping into human empathy is a greater way to connect with people than using somewhat salacious content. In the world of Google, people search for naked pictures of celebrities, Peretti explained, but no one wants to be known as the sleazy guy asking for nude photos of Scarlett Johansson on Facebook.

BuzzFeed, of course, is a phenomenon in viral media. But more than just a place to find huge listicles of cute animal photos, the publication is also creating long-form content. That’s something which has confused a bunch of people like me, who don’t really get why there are so many.

Peretti, who also was on the founding team of the Huffington Post (now lovingly owned by TechCrunch parent company AOL), explains: BuzzFeed has so many cute animals is because it makes content for all the different ways that people have emotions.

“If you feel emotion, that means you’re probably human,” Peretti said. “When people complain about all of the cute animals, I ask are you a sociopath or an android?”

That’s the key to why BuzzFeed is so popular on Facebook and what makes it so inherently viral. It’s not about the animals, but about humans expressing themselves in a way that allows them to show empathy and other human emotions.