Scroll to discover the truth about Facebook

Our aim 

What we want to explore 

Why have we made this website? 

  • We are looking into how Facebook keep users on their platform. 

  • This website will explore the ways Facebook achieves this by looking at the content and mechanisms they use.  

  • The mechanisms we will explore are features such as the like button, comments, tagging friends in posts and sharing content.  

  • We will explore the reason behind why Facebook incorporated these features and provide some clarity on their goals as an organisation and the effects they have had on the users. 

  • The major affect we will be unpicking is the addiction that Facebook causes on its users, we will discuss the theory behind this and the ongoing opinion whether or not Facebook was aware of this addiction when creating the features mentioned above.  

  • We want our users to come away from the website and take a step back and reflect on themselves and the way that they are manipulated by organisations such as Facebook, particularly how these companies encourage users to gain a reliance or addiction to their platforms. 

  • We want our audience to be aware of all the details we can pull together about Facebook, all the details behind what we are exploring. I think it is a shock to anyone considering how much time we spend on Facebook how much information people are not aware of. This is exactly why we want to create this website, to bring this information our the dark.  

What will you learn? 

  • We will encourage you to reflect upon your digital habits especially your usage, prompted by factual and theoretical information. This will allow you to have learnt something by the time you reach the conclusion of our project. 

 

  • We hope our readers gain a better understanding of what they are amercing themselves with through this website. Users of Facebook may not be aware that features draw them in more and more causing an addiction. By them following the information on our website we hope it helps them understand why this is and helps them make better decisions for their well-being or help others if needed. 

 

These ideas will be explored:  

  • Social Media addiction as a factual and theoretical idea. 

 

  • The specific algorithms and mechanisms built into the site that work without the need for user interaction. 

 

  • The tools given to users to allow them to interact with each-other, a cycle of call-and-response. 

Where it all began 

Did you know? 

  • Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes in 2004.  

  • Facebook soon became the biggest social network globally, with more than one billion users from 2012, around half of the number were using Facebook day to day.

What were the first features implemented into Facebook?

 User accounts (real names required), restricted to @harvard.edu email addresses. 

 

Friends, including friend requests. 

 

Invitations. 

 

Profiles, with a single photo for each user. 

 

Ability to list user metadata like gender, birthday, dorm, phone number, favourite music, favorite books, "about me," courses. 

 

Search by name, class year, courses, other metadata. 

 

Privacy restrictions such as - friends only, only people in your class year. 

 

A feature to visualise a user's friend graph - this was later cut. 

 

There was no messaging feature when Facebook was first set up. 

How have Facebook features progressed over the years?

Follow the Timeline

2004

  • Launched as TheFacebook.com.  

  • No photos, wall, news feed, events or pages yet.

2005

  • Introduced Photos  

2006

January:

  • Friend Details (how you know your friends)

 

Spring:

  • My Messages Page launched  

  • Browse launched  

  • Mobile Photo Uploads  

  • My Photos page upgraded  

 

Summer:

  • Search functionality added for former classmates and co-workers  

  • Global Groups and Events  

 

August:

  • Facebook Development Platform Launched  

  • Mobile Web 

 

September:

  • News Feed and Mini-Feed launched  

  • New privacy controls  

  • Opened to all 13 and up with valid email address  

 

October:

  • Share links to articles, photos and videos  

  • Share Button  

 

November:

  • News Feed Preferences  

  • Privacy controls for when you poke, message and add friends  

 

December:

  • Profile picture photo album, keeps history of your profile photos  

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2007

January:

  • Mobile Uploads  

  • Mobile Texts  

 

February:

  • Give virtual gifts  

 

March:

  • Group Update Information and create Events from Groups  

  • Photo Sorting and Organizing  

  • Export photos directly from iPhoto to Facebook albums  

 

April:

  • Navigation and profile simplification  

  • My Messages and My Shares changed to Inbox  

  • See all friends’ updates at once  

  • Subscribe to a friend’s updates via SMS  

  • Update status from your phone by sending an SMS to Facebook  

 

May:

  • Marketplace completely rolled out (classifieds)  

 

June:

  • Facebook Video Launched (tagging, FB video player, video messaging, mobile integration)  

 

July:

  • Post Attachments to the Wall  

  • August:

  • Facebook for iPhone Mobile Site  

  • Send Facebook Messages to Facebook User or email address  

 

September:

  • Public Search Listings  

 

November:

  • Facebook Pages for Businesses launched  

  • Social Ads launched, making advertising relevant  

  • Publish your activities on Facebook Pages to News Feeds  

 

December:

  • Make a tagged photo your profile photo  

  • Friend Lists launched

2008

March:

  • New privacy interface and options 

 

April:

  • Facebook Chat Launched  

  • Import activities from Flickr, Picasa, Yelp and del.icio.us  

 

May:

  • People You May Know  

  • Import activities from YouTube, Pandora and other sites  

 

June:

  • Suggest Friends to other Friends  

  • Comment on friends’ mini-feed stories from their profile  

 

July:

  • Facebook for iPhone Application  

  • The Wall  

  • The Publisher – publish content directly to the Wall  

 

October:

  • Gift Shop Credits  

 

December:

  • Seamless browsing commenting pop-up 

2009

January:

  • Birthday Reminders  

 

February:

  • Like button added to friends’ content  

  • Schedule a virtual gift on Valentine’s Day  

 

March:

  • New profiles for public figures and organizations (formerly Pages)  

  • New Home Page design, real-time stream, new filters, improved Publisher, Highlights  

 

April:

  • View your Facebook stream on websites and applications outside of site  

 

May:

  • News Feed now updates in real time, no longer needing to be refreshed  

  • Family Relationships added  

  • Notifications appear in real time above chat bar as pop-up alerts  

 

June:

  • Subscribe via SMS to friends’ status updates  

  • Facebook Usernames  

 

July:

  • Create Events from the Publisher  

  • Facebook Fan Box on Websites  

  • Upload Photos or Videos via email  

 

August:

  • Publish Facebook Page content to Twitter  

 

September:

  • Tag Friends in Status Updates  

  • Log in with Username in addition to email address  

 

October:

  • Revamped Groups for consistent design and publish to News Feeds  

  • Retooled Gift Shop, including Music  

  • Change to two views: News Feed and Live Feed

  • Friends Suggestion Box  

  • Share Count added to Share Button  

 

November:

  • Xbox Connects with Facebook  

  • December:

  • Relationship Anniversaries Added to Profile  

2010

January:

  • Reply to Comments through email  

  • Receive Updates from Applications through Email  

 

February:

  • Faster, Simpler Photo Uploader  

 

March:

  • New Applications and Games Dashboard  

  • Bookmark Applications  

  • Become a Fan of Application Facebook Pages  

 

April:

  • Community Pages  

  • More Connected Profiles  

  • Social Plugins (Like, Activity Feed, Recommendations)  

 

May:

  • Streamlined Events Creation  

 

June:

  • Added the ability to Like a Comment  

 

July:

  • Improved Photos Tagging  

  • Interests Suggestions for New Registrants  

  • Facebook Stories Launched  

  • Facebook Questions Launched  

 

August:

  • Facebook Gift Shop Closes  

  • Check in at Facebook Places  

 

September:

  • Improvements to Photos: Higher Resolution, New Photo Viewer, Easier Tagging and Uploading  

 

October:

  • New Version of Facebook Groups  

  • Download All of your Facebook Content to your Computer  

  • Partnership with Bing for Social Search  

  • Skype Integration  

  • Friendship Pages  

 

November:

  • Facebook Deals  

  • Places and Groups to Android App  

  • Deals Integration for iPhone App  

  • Seamless Facebook Messaging (SMS, Chat, email or Messages)  

 

December:

  • New Facebook Profile  

  • Face Recognition Photo Tagging  

2012

January:

  • Listen to Music with your Friends  

  • Apps for Timeline launched, allowing frictionless sharing  

February:

  • Facebook Timeline for Pages  

March:

  • Facebook Interest Lists  

2011

April:

  • Expansion of Deals to Deals on Facebook  

 

July: 

  • Video Calling and Other Improvements to Facebook Chat  

 

August:

  • Improvements to Games including Games Ticker  

  • More Controls to See Who You are Sharing With  

  • Bigger, Faster Photos  

 

September:

  • Improved Friend Lists, including Smart Lists and Notifications  

  • Subscribe Button to Subscribe to Non-Friends’ public content, allow non-friends to subscribe to your public content, and better control what content you see from your friends  

  • Top Stories on News Feed  

  • Facebook Timeline for Profiles  

 

October:

  • Facebook Messenger Mobile Application  

 

November:

  • Recent Stories Filter  

 

December:

  • Facebook Subscribe Button for Websites  

  • Timeline Available on Mobile  

2013

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2010- Profile

2014

  • January: Trending Topics rolled out  

January:

  • unveils a search feature that let users quickly sift through their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places.  

 

April:

  • Brings Facebook content to the homepage of Android phones, so users don’t have to check the app directly 

2016

  • Introducing REACTIONS  

  • April: Facebook Live launched 

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What affects have Facebook features had?   

Smartphones have provided us with a virtually unlimited supply of social stimuli, both positive and negative. Every notification, whether it’s a text message, a “like” on Instagram, or a Facebook notification, has the potential to be a positive social stimulus and dopamine influx.

Some of the downsides to using social media are:

  • Low self-esteem, which may be prompted by incorrect perceptions that others’ lives are “better” than yours 

  • increased isolation and loneliness 

  • anxiety or depression 

  • onset of social anxiety disorder 

  • a fear of missing out (FOMO), which can lead to even more social media usage 

  • disrupted sleep patterns, especially if you use social media right before bedtime 

  • decreased physical activity, which may affect your overall health 

  • poor grades or work performance 

  • ignoring the relationships in your “real” life 

  • reduced ability to empathize with others 

Like other types of  behavioral addictions, using social media can influence your brain in harmful ways. You may use social media compulsively and excessively. You can become so accustomed to scrolling through posts, images, and videos that it interferes with other areas of your life. 

In some cases, social media can be a welcome distraction if you’re isolated due to work or an illness. The more you engage, the more your brain will tell you that this is an activity that can help reduce loneliness (which may not necessarily be the case, actually). 

What is the addiction behind Facebook?

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  • Mark Fisher’s concept of depressive hedonia  

  • This is the process of people self-medicating to cope with the disappearance of the future and commodification, our coping mechanisms for dealing with this are through consuming hedonic media.  

  • The psychology behind this – can be explained when looking at human’s responses when there is more food around. There instinct is to consume more – this explains why we are compulsively looking at pictures of food and friends – there is a hedonic value.   

  • People consume drugs because it is addictive, people smoke when they know it is bad for them, people eat candy when they know it will destroy their teeth, but we do all of this anyway despite what we know. - because the feel good factor of consuming these things outweighs the self control we have to be healthy.  

  • social media however, is a more efficient version of junk food and tobacco – because it is harder to identify the way it is affecting you - people are unaware that social media makes them feel depressed so there is nothing stopping them from consuming it.  

  • Someone using social media as a temporary solution and a distraction will result in them feeling worse and needing more distraction. So they will emerce themselves in more social media to fill this void unaware this is what’s causing them to feel worse. 

Mark Fisher 

  • “He called to light the paradox that while the internet was once referred to as the “information super-highway”, now it is dominated by one mass platform, Facebook, through which most people get the vast majority of the web-based information. Understanding how people use Facebook then is critical to understanding how people engage with the news.” 

  • “He articulated the factors that make Social Media so addictive. First, the familiarity of sources – the fact that newsfeeds are populated by friends and familiar faces – ‘carry an immense emotional weight’ for us and provide us with more faux-interactions with people we know than we could usually hope to get from offline activity.” 

  • “Second, the immense abundance offered by the infinite scroll means ‘there’s always more you haven’t seen.” 

  • “the combination and variation of content, in the one place combines with the novelty of the content to provide constant mini-dopamine boosts, much the same as what one would get from “hits” of a drug, sex, or a calorific food.” 

  • “‘the individual is reacting to his negative life situation, facilitated by an internet application.’ This is due to a state of depressive hedonia which is characterised not by ‘an inability to get pleasure, so much as by an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure.” 

  •  Facebook’s aim to begin with, was how to gain as much time and attention from people as possible.  

  • A network that grows to billions of people changes your relationship with society and interferes with productivity  

  • As mentioned above Sean Parker refers to the ‘Dopermean hit’ which encourages users to contribute more content to Facebook.  

  • It’s a social validation feedback group  

  • Facebook creators were aware of this vulnerability and yet continued despite the consequences. 

Sean Parker

  • “He claimed Facebook was deliberately designed to get people hooked and keep them coming back for more by giving them an addictive thrill whenever they get a "like" on a post or photo” 

  • "It's a social validation feedback loop. It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." 
     

Was Facebook aware of the addiction?

Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerburg has suggested that ‘the problem boil(s) down to the contents of the news feed.'. But there’s a big issue he failed to mention. Psychologists and academics have long been sounding the alarm over the addictive qualities of Facebook that go far beyond the news feed.  

In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook. This may be the reason why neither the employees at Facebook or Zuckerberg himself are talking about the addiction that may be caused. To start talking about the addiction that is being caused would be catastrophic for Facebook as they may start to lose users and then money  

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Sean Parker

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Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network) has come forward to confirm that many of Facebook’s features were consciously engineered to induce a dopamine hit to get people hooked. 

What does the future hold for Facebook? 

Through the eyes of other CEO's 

  • CEO of ZipWorks mentions in 2022 they will no longer access Facebook through a feed. The Facebook of the future will follow them wherever they go, and they interact with it through voice commands and via augmented reality devices like digital eyeglasses.

  • Facebook will be integrated throughout their homes, cars and offices through a range of appliances and screens, and will be the dominant platform powering virtual reality experiences.

  • Like today, Facebook will keep you connected with what’s happening around the world and among your friends, but the service will weave Facebook into our lives, and we’ll experience Facebook without the need to pick up our phones.

Through the eyes of Mark Zuckerberg  

  • In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg stated on his personal Facebook page that his platform will change so that users will have, “more meaningful social interactions.”

  • This statement is a reaction to Facebook’s poor public image relating to their role in possibly influencing the 2016 election, and the association with the Millennial addiction to social media.

  • The later was influenced by a 2015 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that showed passive usage of the website had a negative effect on students’ sense of well-being.

  • The generation that helped Facebook grow is now revolting against its harmful effects. 

  • What started as a humble platform for college students to connect and meet on another is now a platform for data extraction, repacking, and sale to third party advertisers.

  • “Meaningful engagement” with a social media platform sounds like a conundrum, but maybe the developers at Facebook can actually make time spent on Facebook time well spent.

  • Consistent themes throughout their changes is the motivation to invest in the communities and give people new ways to engage with the platform. 

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Thank you for scrolling! Now it's time to switch off , look up and spread the message.  

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