In a surprising blog post published on Friday, the social network admitted that researchers weren’t entirely wrong to conclude that its website and other social media platforms harm the emotional wellbeing of heavy users. Spending time on Facebook “passively consuming information” can leave people “feeling worse,” the company’s own researchers said, citing studies indicating that excessive use and reading about others online can lead to “worse mental health.”
The social network also discussed in the blog post ways to remedy this problem. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it concluded that users can make Facebook a more positive experience by posting more stuff.
The blog’s authors, Facebook director of researcher David Finsberg and research scientist Moira Burke, argued that engaging and interacting more with other people on the platform has proven to improve the wellbeing of users.
“Actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in wellbeing,” the researchers said. “This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.”
To help combat the negative effects of using its website, Facebook launched several new tools. They include Take A Break, designed to give people dealing with break-ups control over what information they can see on their exes page and vice-versa, and Snooze, a feature that enables users to hide a person, page or group for 30 days without having to unfollow or unfriend them.
The company’s recognition that part of its platform is bad for people’s health came shortly after a former Facebook executive accused the social network of destroying society. Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before leaving the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth,” according to the Verge. (See also: Facebook Ex-Employee Says Lawmakers Should Regulate It.)
Facebook has also come under fire for reportedly helping to spread Russian propaganda, fake news and hate speech across its platform. (See also: Facebook to Double Security Staff by the End of Next Year.)