I hear you. I do.
And I have many of the same concerns about the bullshitosphere. (Also: great word)
I should clarify for this instance, though: It's by no means a *requirement* by any publisher that we furnish FB share-counts. In fact, I can't even imagine any of them requiring that info.
The FB-count is part of an overall package of metrics we furnish to publishers when explaining what our site is and who it reaches. We do that, because we realize that publicists often have to make tough decisions on behalf of their authors, who may not have time to meet every press request they get.
In that way, social media metrics (when you're talking about an online vehicle) aren't that different from circulation metrics (when you're talking about a print magazine). Even before the Internet ever existed, it was (and still is) common to provide circulation data to someone you wish to entice to be part of your publication -- be that an advertiser, an interview subject's agent, whatever. Go to any print magazine's website, look up their "media kit," and that's what you'll find.
And there's a good reason for that. Let's say I'm a publicist, and I work on behalf of an author who, in addition to being a novelist, is also a parent of two kids, maybe even a single parent, and perhaps has other professional and life obligations too. That author cannot possibly say yes to every interview request they get -- it's impossible. So my job, as the publicist, is to strategically choose opportunities that will get word of the book out to as large and diverse a group of potential readers as possible, without running my author ragged. One piece of the puzzle I'd need to make that decision is circulation metrics: how many people would see this thing.
So, back to the situation at hand: In my job, when I give metrics to someone who's weighing whether they can give their last available interview slot to our publication or to another that's vying for that time, I'd like those metrics to be complete. That is, I'd like to be able to say, "We have X# subscribers by email; X# who subscribe via WordPress directly; and an additional X# who see it on Twitter, X# on FB, etc." As it is now, I have to say, "but disregard those FB numbers, because they seem to be broken."
Not the biggest deal in the world. But it'd be nice if it all worked correctly.
All that said, I echo your frustration with the emphasis these days on quantity over quality. There are indeed a bunch of godawful sites out there that have a bajillion shares/followers/et. -- most of which are just robots or garbage -- and it's all meaningless.
I hope, if you have something to say and you know there are people who want to read it, that you won't close up shop. Keep going, for all those who DO value quality over quantity.
And if you're ever in Nashville, stop by our store. There's nothing we love more than a quality read, and that's why we carefully choose a mix of big names and new authors, mega-tomes and little independently published books, new releases and oldies -- all books we personally stand behind. Come say hello sometime!