dark social
n. Online social interactions that are not public and cannot be directly tracked or traced.
Although many brands are looking to tap into the power of influencers on public social networks, for example, savvy marketers are beginning to explore the opportunity of reaching consumers through private social channels such as messaging apps, sometimes referred to as 'dark social'.
—Charlotte Rogers, “What’s next for influencer marketing?,” Marketing Week, June 16, 2016
It's increasing the demand for "dark social" apps that provide ways to talk through on digital media without leaving an easily traceable footprint. Snapchat's messages disappear after being seen or read (although not necessarily securely). Meanwhile, Yahoo's new LiveText livestream video chat service will also have conversation delete after the user closes the session.
—Michelle Castillo, “Firms offer 'dark social' to protect your privacy,” CNBC, July 31, 2015
It’s important to mention that Dark Social refers to web traffic stemming from sources that cannot be tracked by analytics software. It occurs when users share content or links via communication platforms including emails, instant messages and forum posts, representing three times the social sharing activity of Facebook.
—Niall McCarthy, “Dark Social: The Dominant Force In Online Sharing [Infographic],” Forbes, December 04, 2014
2012 (earliest)
This means that this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs. I call it DARK SOCIAL.
—Alexis C. Madrigal, “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong,” The Atlantic, October 12, 2012
Dark social sharing is more than twice as popular as public social sharing. Source: Radium One