Mental health is one of those terms you don’t usually toss around loosely. Afterall, many people around the world suffer from all forms of mental disorders and need psychiatric help.
But a blog post by David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook point out that studies of people “passively consuming information” lead them feeling worse off.
According to the blog post, one study was performed where University of Michigan students spent 10 minutes just browsing through Facebook posts.
Because they were not interacting with anyone, and merely browsing social media profiles and posts, they ended up feeling worse off than they did, from when they started.
On the flip side of the equation, those that interacted on Facebook by liking, sharing, and commenting on posts went away feeling better.
There is a direct relationship between a sense of well-being when a user receives more engagement from friends and families on their profiles, versus passively consuming content.
In short, we all know the power and influence that FB has over the majority of its users.
The algorithm is so advanced, that liking certain posts and posting status updates with certain keywords complete a near perfect user persona profile.
That profile is further enhanced as we voluntarily hand over important information to the platform.
- Profile pics
- Family photos
- Job updates
- Relationship status
- Vacation trips
- Your likes and dislikes
- Political views
Are all just some of the information Facebook uses to understand you better.
The social media platform employs researchers and scientists to study its users and how they interact with the platform.
FB knows that there are some issues that need ironing out, and for such a large company with a massive amount of users, this is proving to be a challenge.
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s all about how you use the social media website/app.
Facebook can be a place where information can be used to enlighten others, communities can rally around themselves for a common cause, friends and families can reconnect.
There are many stories about the benefits of using Facebook and how it has transformed lives in the process.
But technology is like a double-edged sword and can cut you if it is not wielded with care.
So does it pose a mental health risk?
That’s the same as saying the Internet is an evil place.
It’s all about how you use it and what you intend to get out of the entire experience.
Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg :
We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions
One of the newest features available on the platform is “Snooze”.
Facebook Snooze allows you to temporarily unfollow a person’s status updates for 30 days.
It’s an alternative to unfollowing entirely and will disable updates in your news feed from that person, page, or group for a month.
This feature is the result of users requesting more control over the content that is shown on their feed.
Another is their suicide prevention tools, which has been in the works for a while.
Since one of FB’s mission is to connect people, what better way than to help someone who is at risk of taking their own life, by connecting that person with a mental health professional.
Facebook is in a unique situation. Not only is it the largest social media platform on the Internet, it’s the place where a lot of people source their news.
Look no further than the last U.S. election and the controversy around the buying of ads.
Both Clinton and Trump spent a whopping $81 million on Facebook ads.
The company is also trying to combat fake news by making updates to its algorithms and hiring more staff to watch posts and pages.
If Apple is the world’s most valuable company, Facebook has to be the most powerful.
The massive amount of user data and the influence the social media platform has over our lives is absolutely mind-boggling.
But its power is only limited to the extent that we allow it to have on us.
Facebook will only pose a mental risk if we let it. It’s a powerful platform to share and inspire others, but only if we use the technology responsibly.
Source: The Guardian