A Facebook strategy to emphasize users’ participation in “community,” rather than just entertainment, is leaving them depressed, a study shows.
Wired reported that after the social-media company was criticized for its role in the 2016 election, it said last year it would build community online by emphasizing interaction with friends and family, and less “passive” consumption of content.
“But seeing posts from friends and family may make young people feel worse after spending time on social networks, according to a new study from research firm Ypulse, commissioned by image-sharing site Imgur,” Wired reported. “The survey, conducted in late February, asked 2,100 13-to-35-year-olds in the U.S. how they felt after using popular digital-media services including Netflix, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Pinterest and Snapchat.”
The study “found that the more ‘social’ elements a service has, the more likely it is to make users unhappy. On the flip side, the more a site focuses on entertainment and discovery, the happier its users say they are.”
It quoted Jillian Kramer of Ypulse saying, “Entertainment platforms are giving [users] something to be happier, instantly lifting the mood and changing the conversation, whereas ones that are focused on self-identity and personal branding are not winning in that arena.”
The survey found the majority of users felt better after visiting Spotify or Netflix, without social interactions.
“About half of users felt better after spending time on sites that rely heavily on professional content, like Pinterest and YouTube. Fewer than half of users reported feeling better after visiting social media sites including Snapchat and Instagram (44 percent), Reddit (37 percent), Twitter (36 percent), and Tumblr (33 percent). Facebook fared the worst: Just 29 percent of Facebook users felt better after using the platform, and 16 percent reported feeling less happy,” Wired said.
Some platforms convince their users their time there is well-spent, with only 1 percent on Spotify and 9 percent on Netflix believe they’re wasting their time.
However, Facebook “was the only platform in the survey where more users said their time was wasted than well spent.”
“According to the survey, just 23 percent of Facebook users said the platform provided ‘time well spent’ while 31 percent felt their time on Facebook was wasted,” Wired reported.
The company, meanwhile, has said it is trying to make people believe their time on the platform is “time well spent.”
Facebook’s strategy includes discouraging passive scrolling and promoting more “meaningful interactions,” Wired said.
“Facebook was also the only platform that appears to be losing momentum, with more users reporting they spend less time on it this year (29 percent) than say they spend more time on it (26 percent). One 23-year-old woman cited the preponderance of drama: ‘Why do I need to know that Bri’s babydaddy is on meth again, but he’ll be fine, he just needs our support? Where is all the cool stuff?’ A 25-year-old woman complained about ‘seeing the idealized versions of others and feeling like my life doesn’t compare.'”