Facebook Tries To Make User Time More Meaningful, Less Unhealthy

At least among “passive” users, Facebook is admitting that it might not be the healthiest pastime.

Citing a body of independent and internal research, as well as expert opinion, the tech titan says people who spend a lot of time passively consuming information (on Facebook’s News Feed, for instance) report feeling worse afterward.

Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said: “We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions.”

To that end, researchers say Facebook has made several changes to the News Feed to provide more opportunities for “meaningful” interactions, while reducing passive consumption of low-quality content.

That includes demoting things like clickbait headlines and fake news, although people often click on those links at a high rate, as well as optimizing rankings so posts from the friends users care about most are more likely to appear at the top of their feed.

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In order to address these issues, Facebook says it employs social psychologists, social scientists and sociologists while collaborating with scholars to better understand “well-being.” The goal is to make Facebook a place that contributes in a positive way.

Conversely, Facebook says that actively interacting with people via social media is “linked” to improvements in well-being.

“This ability to connect with relatives, classmates and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place. It’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community,” David Ginsberg and Moira Burke, director of research and a research scientist at Facebook, note in a new blog post.

As a result of these findings, the researchers say Facebook is trying to encourage social interaction rather than simply passing time.

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