When social media users scroll through their timelines without liking, commenting or sharing, they feel worse than they did before. But when they actively interact with posts, they feel better.
This is according to Facebook, which believes that sharing posts and sending messages – rather than passively consuming content – boosts its users’ wellbeing.
It worked with Carnegie Mellon University to report “improvements in social support, depression and loneliness” when people interacted with their Facebook friends online, rather than simply post regular status updates.
“Researchers hypothesise that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering,” Facebook said in a blog post.
In response, the post added, Facebook is introducing new features that, in the words of founder Mark Zuckerberg, “encourage meaningful social interactions.” Its redesigned comments, for example, are designed “to foster better conversations”, while its new Snooze feature allows people, groups and pages to be hidden for 30 days.
“We don’t have all the answers,” Facebook’s post concluded, “but given the prominent role social media now plays in many people’s lives, we want to help elevate the conversation.”