Facebook admits spending too much time on social media likely to harm offline social relations

BY  | FROM  | 2017-12-18 10:46

Facebook, the world's top social media giant, acknowledged Friday that spending excessive time on its website without interacting with friends and family members may hurt social relations offline.

In a blog post on the company's official website, David Ginsberg, Facebook's director of research, and Moira Burke, a researcher at the tech firm, said people who just passively consume information on its website with no interaction with other people may feel worse afterward.

They cited an experiment conducted by the University of Michigan in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions in the northern United States, in which students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than their peers assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook.

"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," Ginsberg wrote in the blog.

Other research also shows that users who interact with people by sharing messages, posts or comments improved their well-being.

"A person's health and happiness relies heavily on the strength of their relationships," according to the two Facebook researchers.

They said the top reason that attracts people to Facebook is the ability to connect with their relatives, classmates and colleagues.

"Staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community," they added.

"We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions with your friends and family -- enhancing your relationships offline, not detracting from them," Ginsberg and Burke wrote.

Facebook has been under mounting pressure in recent months as many people, including its former executives and employees, criticized that social media could be ripping society apart.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who was Facebook's vice president for user growth until 2011, said in a lecture at the Stanford Graduate School of Business last month that the company created tools that are "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works."

In order to quell such criticism, Facebook has released a few tools that help its users behave more rationally on its website, such as a snooze feature that lets users unfollow a person, page or group for 30 days.

Facebook currently has about 2 billion monthly active users worldwide. 

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