Insiders from Twitter and Facebook have opened a can of worms in terms of insights towards two of the world’s biggest social media networks. If what they’re suggesting to reports are true, then Twitter and Facebook subtly try to make themselves “addicted” to its users in “quiet” and psychological ways. It even came to the point that they were both called “behavioural cocaine.”
If you ever considered yourself as one of those individuals that agree that Twitter and Facebook are addictive – this might be the brutal realisation that what you think may actually be very true. In fact, some insiders from Silicon Valley say Facebook and Twitter are in fact designed to function like “behavioural cocaine,” and that social media is deliberately designed to possess addictive qualities.
Much of this scary realisation can be attributed to another fact that social media companies do try their best to make sure users get “addicted” to their offerings – or some Silicon Valley insiders are to credit saying. Things such as infinite scrolling and being able to Like posts allow users to stay in the system for longer than what’s “healthy,” and what they see constantly feed upon their various insecurities. For instance, it can be noted that Aza Raskin of Jawbone and Mozilla had made the infinite scrolling function way back in 2006, now making it possible to be able to swipe through content without ever having to click. Raskin said if users don’t give their brains enough time to process their impulses, the urge to click really will become strong.
Raskin admitted it’s not in his intention to get people “addicted,” and he did feel guilty about just how much impact his creation did. But now it’s just one of the many things social media platforms have started to use to make sure people are maintained to their screens.
Raskin also said it’s as though “behavioural cocaine” is being sprinkled all over interfaces of social media platforms, and that’s what’s making people keep going back for more. He added it’s as though there’s thousands of engineers behind every screen making sure social media platforms make use of their addictive qualities to their maximum potential.
Leah Pearlman, co-creator of Facebook’s iconic Like feature with Justin Rosenstein, also said she herself got “addicted” to the feature as she consistently wanted people to Like her posts. She said she goes to Facebook if she wants to seek validation – and this is the same course of action to be done whenever she feels lonely or insecure.
Rosenstein also noted last year that the very existence of the Like button have led to the rise of clickbait articles, where people are led to lackluster content because of a catchy headline. He said that this has also led to the distribution of material that won’t give any value despite being Liked. Now, Facebook has made it a lot easier to make sure its Like button are put on pages – although the social media platform did say it’s never in their intention to make their services addictive.
A Facebook spokesperson said that the allegations of BBC Panorama’s documentary – which will feature this topic – are inaccurate. Instagram and Facebook were “designed” to make sure people are closer to family, friends, and other things they care for. They added these platforms are designed to make sure connecting with loved ones and communities that are far away would be much easier, and appreciating causes and interests would be extremely easier. These are apparently the centers of the design decisions Facebook has, and there’s no stage anywhere that’s geared to make sure the designs make people addicted to the services.
It can be noted that in 2017, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has introduced a lot of changes to its News Feed to make sure “time well spent” on Facebook is increased. However, the person in charge of that functionality later admitted that the team is still quite confused as to what the goal for this is. In fact, some rumors suggest that Facebook is testing something called “Your Time on Facebook,” which is designed to help people manage their time that they spend on the social media platform.
Meanwhile, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to comment on the matter.
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