Why Are We Still Using Facebook?


by Derrick Broze, Activist Post:

Facebook has acknowledged what multiple studies have already confirmed – the social network has a tendency to make users depressed, stressed, and envious.

After years of studies pointing to negative experiences for users of Facebook, the social media giant has finally conceded that users may experience periods of sadness or depression. “In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward,” Facebook wrote in a new blog post titled “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?”.

Facebook mentions a University of Michigan study titled “Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence.” In the study students were randomly assigned to read Facebook for ten minutes. The students who only scrolled reported feeling in a worse mood by the end of the day when compared to students who talked to friends and posted on Facebook. The blog post also mentions a study from UC San Diego and Yale which 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 in a survey.

The blog also notes that a study conducted by Facebook and Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression and loneliness.

Simply broadcasting status updates wasn’t enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.

Facebook concludes their post by stating that their research and the academic literature “suggests that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being.” Interestingly, Facebook’s solution to negative emotional responses caused by too much Facebook is basically to use Facebook more often and in a more social manner. Facebook writes:

According to the research, it really comes down to how you use the technology. For example, on social media, you can passively scroll through posts, much like watching TV, or actively interact with friends — messaging and commenting on each other’s posts. Just like in person, interacting with people you care about can be beneficial, while simply watching others from the sidelines may make you feel worse.

Although Facebook is only now publicly discussing the effects of the social network being so heavily intertwined with billions of people’s lives, there have been studies examining the issue since at least 2013. Reuters UK reported that a group of researchers from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University found that “one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.”

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova told Reuters.

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