Here’s how your Facebook friends could be hurting you unintentionally

Facebook posts can create negative emotions in the users who read them and may affect thought processes in ways that make users more susceptible to advertising messages, says a new study.

more lifestyle Updated: Sep 28, 2018 16:43 IST
Asian News International
Facebook,Facebook friends,Social exclusion
Results indicated that individuals exposed to social exclusion information involving their close friends experienced greater negative emotions than the control group. (Shutterstock)

Hindered thought and negative emotions may be linked to unintended social exclusion on Facebook and other social media sites, hurting a person unintentionally. A new study by a co-author of a University at Buffalo takes a critical look not just at Facebook and other similar platforms but also at the peculiarities of the systems on which these sites operate.

The short-term effects of these posts create negative emotions in the users who read them and may affect thought processes in ways that make users more susceptible to advertising messages. Associate Professor Michael Stefanone said, “These findings are compelling. We’re using these technologies daily and they’re pushing information to users about their networks, which is what the sites are designed to do, but in the end, there’s negative effect on people’s well-being.”

“Social exclusion, even something that might seem trivial, is one of the most powerful sanctions people can use on others and it can have damaging psychological effects,” she added.

Lead author Jessica Covert said, “These findings are not only significant because we are talking about individuals’ emotions here, but it also raises questions about how exposure to these interactions affect one’s day-to-day functioning.”

For the study, Covert and Stefanone created scenarios designed to mirror typical interactions on Facebook, and 194 individuals participated in an experiment ensuring exposure to social exclusion. The researchers presented one group with a scenario involving two good friends, where one of those friends had shared information that excluded the participant. The other group saw a feed that presented no social exclusion information.

Results indicated that individuals exposed to social exclusion information involving their close friends experienced greater negative emotions than the control group. They also had a tendency to devote more mental resources toward understanding their social networks, making them particularly sensitive to stimuli such as advertising.

The full findings appeared in the journal- Social Science Computer Review.

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First Published: Sep 28, 2018 16:42 IST