Two of Facebook’s in-house social scientists acknowledged in a blog post yesterday that passive consumption of content on the social network can harm users’ mood and mental health. But, they say, actively interacting on Facebook – especially directly with close friends – can actually improve people’s well-being.
The post’s authors, Facebook Direct of Research David Ginsberg and Research Scientist Moira Burke, said that recent findings blaming rising social alienation, anxiety and depression on social media are “compelling.”
Moreover, they highlighted experiments and studies showing that specific activities produced negative effects. Students assigned to passively read Facebook for 10 minutes reported worse moods than those directed to post themselves, or to communicate with friends.
Another study found that users who clicked more ‘likes’ and links on Facebook reported a reduced sense of their own mental health. Both phenomena, Ginsberg and Burke write, might be the consequence of users comparing their own lives to the idealized versions posted to social media by others.