'Passive scrolling on Facebook can make you feel bad'

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 16, 2017

The researchers cite numerous studies showing that there are people who feel better when they reach out to friends and loved ones on social media. (Palihapitiya has since walked his statements back a bit.) Even Mark Zuckerberg himself seems to be attempting to portray some sort of soulful reawakening with his cross-country tour of the United States.

Online services such as Facebook and its Instagram unit, Twitter Inc, Snap Inc's Snapchat and Alphabet Inc's YouTube are under attack for their seemingly addictive nature and perceived promotion of anti-social behaviors.

David Ginsberg, Facebook's director of research, and Moira Burke, research scientist, made the surprising admission yesterday in a blogpost that highlighted the downsides of using the website.

Los Angeles, Dec 16 Facebook has admitted that passively scrolling through posts on the social media network can leave people feeling worse afterwards.

The post by Facebook underscores the thorny situation facing the company, which has built a $28 billion business on an advertising model that relies on people spending as much time on its site as possible.

That Facebook felt it necessary to publish a blog post like this is testament to how public perception of it and other major tech companies is shifting. Former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya was even blunter in his assessment: "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works".

As for the unknown impacts technology has on attention span, relationships, and children in the long run, the site is aware of limitations in terms of conclusive research, and thus has "pledged $1 million toward research to better understand the relationship between media technologies, youth development and well-being".

They detailed research from University of MI, which found that students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than those who talked to friends or posted on the website. Though the causes aren't clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison - and perhaps even more so than offline, since people's posts are often more curated and flattering.

They also revealed how a study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average. "Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person".

However, the company says that studies have shown that interactions and active engagement on Facebook has been shown to improve mood and social support in users. These include changes to the news feed to demote what Facebook considers "low-quality content", letting users "snooze" their friends so they don't appear in their News Feed, tools to help manage the content they see from ex-partners, and suicide prevention tools.

The researchers then go on to point to some of the ways Facebook will make sure you are "actively interacting" on Facebook.

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