360 million Facebook addicts

Facebook’s internal documents show that one in eight users can’t stop the social network and suffers an adverse impact on health and work.

One-eighth of Facebook users, or 360 million members, report excessive use, which affects sleep, work, childcare and social relationships.

Facebook calls this a “problematic use” phenomenon, with typical features of Internet addiction. Issues include reduced productivity due to constantly scrolling through Facebook and not getting work done, insomnia due to staying up all night to surf apps, personal relationships fading as users spend more time online than interacting online. next to each other.

Internal documents also show that the situation on Facebook is much worse than on other social networking platforms.

Facebook app on phone.  Photo: Reuters.

Facebook app on phone. Photo: Reuters

A group dedicated to ensuring the well-being of Facebook users has suggested the remedy. Some have been implemented, for example encouraging users to leave social networks for a short time, or turning off certain notifications…

However, this group has been suspended by Facebook since the end of 2019.

Dani Lever, a Facebook spokesman, said the company recently had a plan to address problematic usage and user health concerns. “Many people also struggle with technology like TVs and smartphones. We have our own roles, which is why Facebook has developed tools to help people manage their time on the service. The company also has its own team. learn and make sure people can use the platforms in a way that makes sense to them,” she said.

Research on the negative life impact of using social networks was conducted many years ago by Facebook, with the goal of limiting the dangerous behaviors associated with this company’s platform.

Researchers found that many people have no control over how much time they spend on social media. “Activities like shopping and using Facebook can cause problems for some people if repeated with excessive intensity,” the internal document reads. “In some cases, parents are more on Facebook than taking care of their children.”

“I literally surf Facebook everywhere, except in the shower. I completely lost my sense of time,” said a 22-year-old woman.

In March 2020, several months after the group was disbanded, researchers shared data internally within the company and encouraged other groups to continue their work.

The group estimates addiction affects 12.5% ​​of its 2.9 billion users. 10% of US users, one of the company’s most fertile markets, report that excessive use affects their lives. The figure is 25% in the Philippines and India, two of Facebook’s major markets.

Feeling addicted to Facebook

Laurin Manning Gandy, 40, who signed up for an account in late 2004, says the platform helps her reach many people, in addition to close relationships. Gandy regularly reviews her posts, counts her likes and comments, and spends more than 8 hours a day surfing Facebook.

“Every second of doing nothing I open Facebook on my phone. It takes over my brain,” she said. She found herself giving up creative pursuits, including painting, in exchange for an online presence. Gandy calls it an addiction.

She deleted the app from her phone in April, but recently reinstalled it to order food from restaurants. Gandy says trying not to post anything on Facebook.

Frances Haugen shared in the program 60 Minutes.  Photo:CBS News

Frances Haugen talks about Facebook’s problems in early October. Photo: CBS News

In a 2018 study, Facebook’s data science team said they started reading articles about Facebook addiction. “We take it seriously. While regular use of Facebook doesn’t meet the standards for addiction, we still wanted to address the design issues that led to it,” the team said.

Apple and Google have rolled out features to curb device addiction, and many companies are following in their footsteps. Facebook in 2018 added a time management tool for users, which notifies the total time spent each day and reminds them when they hit a self-regulating threshold.

At the end of October, 17 major US newspapers simultaneously published stories extracted from thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents provided by former manager Frances Haugen. Declining confidence and uncertain future are considered by analysts to be the most severe crisis in the history of the world’s largest social network.

However, this is still not enough for users to leave Facebook, when it is still among the online platforms most used by adults in the US. According to an April survey by the Pew Research Center, 69% of respondents said they were using Facebook.

Experts say that the platform has hit the right social communication needs and biological dynamics, making users unable to stop even when repeatedly expressing a desire to stop using it.

Diep Anh (follow Wall Street Journal)

Leave a Comment