After years of our suspicions, warnings from psychologists, words of caution about social media from Princes William and Harry and a former Facebook executive saying social media is “ripping apart” society, Facebook published a blog post on (you guessed it) Facebook acknowledging it is bad for your mental health. And Facebook announced a plan for “what we’re going to do about it.”
The blogpost, written by director of research David Ginsberg and Facebook research scientist Moira Burke, acknowledges research has found that “when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward.”
The blogpost says they have employed social psychologists, social scientists and sociologists to come up with possible solutions that are not quitting Facebook — although it said it created a new tool called “Take a Break” that allows users to see less posts from an ex and can control what an ex can see. Newsfeed has been changed to increase “meaningful interactions,” while “fake news” and “clickbait” is being demoted.
Additionally, Facebook launched a feature called Snooze, which will allow users the option to hide a user, page or group for 30 days without actually having to unfollow or unfriend.
Facebook has been working on suicide prevention tools for years, and the blogpost notes the company has “released suicide prevention support on Facebook Live and introduced artificial intelligence to detect suicidal posts even before they are reported. We also connect people more broadly with mental health resources, including support groups on Facebook.”
Oh, and about those digital interactions and your kids? The blogpost notes that Facebook recently “recently pledged $1 million toward research to better understand the relationship between media technologies, youth development and well-being.”
But the blogpost says Facebook isn’t all bad for your mental health. “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,” it says.
The blogpost comes days after comments by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya went viral. Palihapitiya said the social media network is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
In response, Facebook said, “Chamath has not been at Facebook for over [six] years. When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world. Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too.>
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