It is not exactly a mea culpa, but it is a beginning of reflection. On Friday, Facebook’s research team published a long article about the harmful effects of social networks. “These are critical issues for Silicon Valley, and for us,” said David Ginsberg and Moira Burke, two researchers working at Facebook. “As parents, we worry about the time our kids spend on screens, and what a” connection “will mean in 15 years. We are afraid to spend more time with our smartphones than with our family. ”
The two members of the Facebook research team detail several studies on the negative effects of social networks. “In general, people who spend a lot of time passively consuming information, that is, who read but do not interact with others, feel bad,” they explain. “The causes are unclear, but researchers assume that reading about other people causes a negative comparison phenomenon, more online than real life, because social media publications are usually carefully chosen. flattering. ”
Nevertheless, for Facebook, the solution to this problem is not to stop social networks, but to use them better. “Interacting with others, such as sharing messages with close friends about past interactions, is linked to improving well-being,” say the researchers, citing a study conducted by Facebook with the university. American Carnegie Mellon. The social network specifies that it employs sociologists and psychologists to work on the subject. And list all the improvements he has already made, such as his suicide prevention tool. Facebook also unveiled Friday an option called “Snooze”, which allows to temporarily hide the contents of a person, a group or a page. The company also announces to think about.
This article is part of a new series of Facebook employee speeches. Dubbed “Hard Questions”, it responds to criticisms of the US social network, such as the fight against online terrorism or Russian influence on the US election. This last example was not published at random. Last week, a former Facebook executive caught the attention of many media by criticizing his former employer very hard. “I think we have created tools that tear the fabric apart,” he said, admitting his “immense guilt”. The latter had precisely said that they did not allow his children to use Facebook. He finally came back partly on his words,saying that he wanted to “launch an important conversation, not criticize a particular company.” The article published Friday still sounds like a response to this diatribe. “We do not have all the answers, but given the prominent role of social networks in people’s lives, we want to help raise the level of debate,” says Facebook.