In response to growing pressure on Facebook from critics who say the platform has a negative effect on society, the social media firm has admitted that social media may damage the mental health of some users,.
In a blog post on Friday, researchers from the social network said that spending too much time “passively consuming information” can make people “feel worse”. Although they said too much time spent on the platform could produce negative results, they also wrote that engaging and interacting with people more on Facebook could be part of the solution to this problem.
Even though increasing number of studies links the use of social media sites with poor mental well-being, especially among the young, David Ginsberg and Moira Burke from Facebook’s research division argue in the post that the evidence is inconclusive and using the platform can also have positive effects on mental health. According to them;
Actively interacting with people – especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions – is linked to improvements in well-being
They also cited the example of a study which suggested that scrolling through your own Facebook profile can lead to “boosts in self-affirmation”. They however noted that some, may experience negative effects from using the platform because it encourages people to constantly compare their lives to others or reduces the amount of time spent socialising with people in real life.
“In sum, our research and other academic literature suggests that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being,” the researchers said, and quoting CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, they said;
We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions
The company announced new features intended to combat some of the negative experiences that they highlighted. Some of these new features includes; ‘Snooze‘ — which lets users hide a person, group or page for 30 days without having to unfriend or unfollow them and ‘Take a Break’ this, in the long run, allows users who have broken up with someone to limit what they see of their exes, thereby, minimizing potentially painful experiences.
Facebook is also making “several changes to the News Feed to provide more opportunities for meaningful interactions and reduce passive consumption of low-quality content.”
Facebook has been accused of providing a platform for white supremacists, censoring critics of oppressive governments and running offensive adverts. The company was also criticized of enabling the spread of fake news to Russian propaganda and hate speech. Earlier on an ex-Facebook executive blasted the social media firm, saying it was “destroying how society works”.
The company is currently working towards solving these issues, earlier on Facebook started flagging fake news posts and promoting legitimate content rather than sketchy articles. The company also announced plans to create a portal to enable its users to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017.
The move which is seen as a follow-ups to Facebook commitment to transparency, is an apparent move to expose foreign news agencies specifically, fake Russian news pages used to spread propaganda during the 2016 US election
Facebook is an online social networking service headquartered in Menlo Park, California, in the United States. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his Harvard College roommates and fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The founders had initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities and later to high-school students. Its name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students.