Quartz: Instagram CTO says they do not withhold “likes” to keep users coming back for more. “Who doesn’t like Instagram ‘likes?’ Watching those little hearts racking up after posting a photo has the potential to deliver feelings ranging from validation that our picture has been noted and approved, to an all-round fuzzy sense of being loved. Instagram knows that, of course, and it is allegedly exploiting it to increase the frequency of visits to its platform, according to a Jan. 6 report in the Globe and Mail.” As you might guess from the headline, Instagram is denying this.
The Independent: Trump administration ends national database for ‘evidence-based’ mental health programmes. “Donald Trump’s administration has suspended a programme that helps people find intervention methods for preventing and treating mental illness and substance use disorder. The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices has existed since 1997 and was designed to provide information about evidence-based mental health.”
Phys .org: Research finds social media users actually calm down. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, people tend to wind down rather than whip themselves into a frenzy while browsing Facebook and Twitter, according to a prize-winning dissertation by a newly minted Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s School of Information.”
The Times: Children link self-worth to ‘likes’ on social media. “Eleven-year-old children are starting secondary school desperate for validation through social media ‘likes’ and comments, research has found. Children whose parents share pictures or videos of them online are often left embarrassed but feel unable to ask that they are removed. The practice, known as ‘sharenting’, has been found to make younger children self-conscious and worried that images posted by their parents would cause them to be laughed at by peers.”
Engadget: Canada will track suicide risk through social media with AI. “The Canadian government is partnering with AI firm Advanced Symbolics to try to predict rises in regional suicide risk by monitoring social media posts. Advanced Symbolics will analyze posts from 160,000 social media accounts and will look for suicide trends. The company aims to be able to predict which areas of Canada might see an increase in suicidal behavior, which according to the contract document includes ‘ideation (i.e., thoughts), behaviors (i.e., suicide attempts, self-harm, suicide) and communications (i.e., suicidal threats, plans).’ With that knowledge, the Canadian government could make sure more mental health resources are in the right places when needed.”
CNET: Your phone really does make you feel good, study says. “You clutch it. And when you’re not clutching it, you can feel where it is. And when you can’t actually feel it, you know precisely where you put it and it’ll take only a small stretch of your arm to touch it. That’s how most people are with their phones. Which leads to the suggestion that we’re all addicted and addiction isn’t a good thing.”
The Conversation: Social networking sites may be controlling your mind – here’s how to take charge. “But how free are we today? There are industries dedicated to capturing and selling our attention – and the best bait is social networking. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have drawn us closer round the campfire of our shared humanity. Yet, they come with costs, both personal and political. Users must decide if the benefits of these sites outweigh their costs. This decision should be freely made. But can it be, if social networking sites are potentially addictive? The decision should also be informed. But can it be, if we don’t know what is happening behind the curtain?”