Facebook’s director of research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke published a post in which they addressed questions about the impact Facebook has on our moods, and revealed some compelling information.
“University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook,” the blog post said. “A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey.”
In other words, if you’re using Facebook to mindlessly browse through your feed or click posts, you may end up in a foul mood after.
Facebook also worked with Carnegie Mellon University for additional insight, and found that “people who sent or received more messages, comments and timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression and loneliness.” Likewise, Facebook said students at Cornell who used Facebook for 5 minutes while viewing their own profiles saw “boosts in self-affirmation,” while folks who looked at other profiles did not.
In other words, using Facebook to interact with people — as opposed to just “browsing” as the University of Michigan study analyzed — seemed to have a positive effect on people.
Facebook’s blog post follows criticisms from former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya, who said recently that social networks such as Facebook are “starting to erode the social fabric of how society works” and that they’re “ripping apart” society. Palihapitiya has since walked back those remarks.
Facebook says it’s going to take this data and work to encourage more social interaction among users in an effort to cut down on those who spend it to waste time and, ultimately, feel worse after.