Researchers Have Found That Facebook's Apps Can Make Us Feel Lonely

A few years back, when Facebook held a competition to generate new product lines, an employee’s-built Robot was named Max.

One person involved with the hackathon project said Max is shaped like a little upside-down bowl and was supposed to be a friend. So Max might be more like a cat, with ears and whiskers. Max never grew up. A unique issue still troubles engineers and researchers at Meta Platforms Inc. Because individuals use Meta's social media applications to avoid in-person interactions, loneliness has become more visible. With its groups and messaging tools, Meta has advertised its function as a digital connection. Some features, like showing picture memories, might evoke emotions of the connection while others, Officials are already investigating if Meta's Instagram is harmful to children.

A former product manager, Frances Haugen, released a statement and said that an internal survey from September 2018 indicated that 36% of Facebook users reported feeling lonely in the last month. To hold media organizations accountable for the national experiment they're performing on our children for profit, President Obama called on Haugen to attend the State of the Union speech. The research revealed loneliness was most prevalent among young people aged 13 to 24, a major demographic Meta target on Facebook and Instagram. Males were more likely than females to be lonely.

Meta's social networks may be increasing rather than reducing loneliness. Seeking out negative postings or harsh comments, seeing people having fun without you, or reading social comparison posts all increased loneliness. Other hobbies, such as Twitter or dating apps, made individuals feel lonelier. In contrast to other activities examined by the researchers, such as video games and TV, respondents believed Facebook enhanced loneliness. Seeing something hilarious or entertaining also helped minimize loneliness. Facebook made 41% of the people who were lonely feel better, and only 6% felt worse. However, 42% claimed the app made them feel both more and less alone.

The different results make it difficult to predict what product modifications might benefit Facebook users the most. According to Facebook, its user base has slowed and, in some areas, shrunk. The very next day, the company's stock dropped by more than a fourth. The question isn't social media causing loneliness. Is social media attracting lonely people? Users' life events, such as large moves or love breakups, might impact statistics. A rising collection of research suggests that the dangers of loneliness go well beyond temporary pain. Anxiety, sadness, and heart disease are related to feeling socially isolated. Loners sleep less, exercise less, and drink more, according to Brigham Young University psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad.

To use Meta's goods, consumers need to have a lot of social media contacts, and those ties need to be meaningful. When Meta saw increased use of its applications during the pandemic, it pushed hard to compete with Apple Inc.'s FaceTime and Zoom Video Communications Inc.'s Zoom Video Calling services. Facebook introduced new video offerings like Rooms to keep consumers engaged while also capturing more of their online time. The use of Groups On Facebook has also proven popular. It is estimated that over 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups monthly, making it one of the company's most popular services. Unsuccessful attempts to develop offline friendships have been made by the company.

Read next: Facebook Campus is going away and groups will take its place
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