Suppression of Information and Research on Social Media Damage to Adolescents’ Health. 2/2

Abstract

Part 1 of this paper summarized a rigorous medical and psychological research that shows that social media damages the health and well-being of a typical adolescent user. The most common illness is depression. These results are well-known to professionals and interested parents. Girls are more vulnerable than boys. The suicide rate among teenage girls tripled from 2007 to 2015. The explosive growth of the social media use in the same period have probably contributed to that.

At the same time, this trend has been hardly noticed by the MSM and not addressed by the government. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has softened its statement on social media and brought it in conformance with the Big Tech interests, despite the overwhelming research confirming worst-case suspicions. Apparently, the research and communication on the subject were suppressed by the Big Tech, especially Facebook and Google.

In my opinion, there is not only similarity, but also a large overlap among those who corrupted the science of social media’s impact on health and the climate-related sciences. Under the Obama administration, the alliance of the Big Tech, Democratic Party, activist groups, and corrupt academics suppressed evidence-based science and encouraged pseudoscience in both areas. Many organizations promote climate alarmism and quietism on SM’s damage to adolescents’ health.

This Part 2 scratches the surface on the corruption of science of SM’s damage to adolescents’ health (SMDAH) science.

 

Intro

Unlike the stories of Stormy Daniels and Christine Blasey Ford, the health and lives of millions of teenage girls mean little to the Big Tech, MSM, and Democratic lawmakers. For the rest of us, this paper describes:

  1. One of “tricks” used by the Big Tech to get teenagers addicted to its products. This “trick” was widely reported by Breitbart. Breitbart is being persecuted by the Big Tech and MSM.
  2. An honest coverage of some dubious practices of Facebook in the media.
  3. The pushback from the Big Tech and the narrative control in the compliant MSM.
  4. Facebook’s campaign to convince people that if they feel bad because of Facebook, it is because they do not use it enough.
  5. The manner in which AAP aligned its position with the Big Tech on both adolescents’ health and climate.

This paper is limited to individual health problems caused by the so-called social media, as discovered by a high-quality peer-reviewed research. Social, political, and philosophical issues are left out of scope.

Adolescents spend most of their social media time on smartphones, and most of their smartphone time is spent on social media, so social media use and smartphone use can be considered almost interchangeable. Here, the term Big Tech refers mainly to Facebook, Twitter, Google (because of YouTube), and Apple.

The “Tricks”

Internal Facebook Notes Shows ‘Psychological Trick’ to Target Teenagers (Breitbart, 08/10/2018, based on BuzzFeed News 8/7/2018; but note that Breitbart has a much larger audience and places this story more prominently than BuzzFeed News)

The following memo describes the experience of a company purchased by Facebook prior to the acquisition. It boasted of a technique to target high school students school by school using Facebook’s Instagram.

“Our team obsessed with finding ways to get individual high schools to adopt a product simultaneously. We designed a novel method that was reproducible, albeit non-scalable. Our first breakthrough was that we discovered that teen Instagram users would frequently list their high school in their bios (e.g. “Sophomore at RHS”). We would simply crawl the school’s place page and then follow all the accounts that contained the school’s name. … We eventually identified a psychological trick: …  2. Set the bio to something mysterious, e.g., “You’ve been invited to the new RHS app—stay tuned!”  3. Follow the targeted users. 4. Wait 24 hours to receive the inbound Follow Requests. (They were curious about our profile so they requested access) … 6. Finally, make the profile Public. This notified all students at the same time … and they subsequently visited our profile, looked at our App Store page, and tried the app.”

“While some of our methods are certainly too “scrappy” for a big company, there are analogous ways to employ these tactics at Facebook.“

This is it—a huge corporation uses the brightest minds and the latest technology to get boys and girls addicted to its harmful service, and the MSM looks other way. This story was not picked up by any large news publication other than Breitbart. Breitbart was already being persecuted by the Big Tech: Google had gray-listed Breitbart in search results, Twitter had endorsed the “sleeping giants’” campaign against Breitbart, Facebook restricts visibility of Breitbart posts and links them to defamatory Wikipedia articles.

The history of Breitbart’s criticism of the Big Tech, which it sarcastically calls “Masters of the Universe,” and the Big Tech’s campaigns against Breitbart is long, although no claims of cause and effect are made here.

 

Ideological Justification

On Parenting • Perspective • Five ways social media can be good for teens

Common Sense Media and Washington Post, 03/19/2018

“Twitter, Facebook and other large social networks expose kids to important issues and people from all over the world. Kids realize they have a voice they didn’t have before and are doing everything from crowdfunding social justice projects to anonymously tweeting positive thoughts.”

That should mean – who cares about health, when social justice is at stake. Note that WaPo considers exposing kids to be a positive effect. The Common Sense Media is a non-profit, funded in part by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Bezos Family Foundation; supported by Google and Twitter; and partnering with Amazon, Apple, Netflix. It also recommends movies to indoctrinate children in climate alarmism from age 5.

 

Corruption Revealed

If You’re A Facebook User, You’re Also a Research Subject

Bloomberg, June 14, 2018; corrected on June 15-21

The social network is careful about academic collaborations, but chooses projects that comport with its business goals.

The professor was incredulous. David Craig had been studying the rise of entertainment on social media for several years when a Facebook Inc. employee he didn’t know emailed him last December, asking about his research. … The company [Facebook] flew him to Menlo Park and offered him $25,000 to fund his ongoing projects, with no obligation to do anything in return. This was definitely not normal, but after conferring with his school, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, it accepted the gift on his behalf.”

The Annenberg Foundation is known to be an incubator for new fake news outlets.

“Other academics got these gifts, too. One, who said she had $25,000 deposited in her research account recently without signing a single document, spoke to a reporter hoping maybe the journalist could help explain it. Another professor said one of his former students got an unsolicited monetary offer from Facebook, and he had to assure the recipient it wasn’t a scam. The professor surmised that Facebook uses the gifts as a low-cost way to build connections that could lead to closer collaboration later.”

Everybody understands that these gifts are test bribes. Those who accepted $25k from Facebook in connection to research related to Facebook indicated to Facebook that they would do more for more money.

 “In studies published with academics at several universities, Facebook found that people who used social media actively—commenting on friends’ posts, setting up events—were likely to see a positive impact on mental health … Of course, the more people engage with Facebook, the more data it collects for advertisers.”

“Some academics cycle through one-year fellowships while pursuing doctorate degrees, and others get paid for consulting projects, which never get published. When Facebook does provide data to researchers, it retains the right to veto or edit the paper before publication…

Facebook also almost always pairs outsiders with in-house researchers… ‘Stuff still comes out, but only the immensely positive, happy stories—the goody-goody research that they could show off,’ said one social scientist who worked as a researcher at Facebook.”

This is academic corruption.

 

Damage Control

An excellent book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood… by Jean Twenge brought SMDAH to public attention in August 2017. The Big Tech and its client allies in the MSM, academia, and nonprofits in the academic left rushed in to save the narrative.

A common occurrence in such situations, the MSM found an obscure academic supporting its position and made him a star. This was some Andrew Przybylski, “a psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute with more than a decade’s experience studying the impact of technology.” The “Oxford Internet Institute” is a loud name for a multidisciplinary department of “social and computer science” under the Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford, which is a shadow of its former self. OII was founded in 2001 and earned infamy by publishing a “study” claiming that Trump had won the 2016 election because of “Russian bots” on Twitter. Twitter rebutted this “study,” but the idea captured the imagination of the MSM and Democratic lawmakers. With the help from Twitter, they convinced a lot of people that many conservative tweeters are Russian bots. By August 2017, Mr. Przybylski had conducted one small study on the impact of social media on health and/or well-being, but that was enough for the media to present him as an expert.

 

 “Don’t Take Away Your Teen’s Phone

Slate and New America, August 2017

It is not surprising that New America (formerly the New America Foundation) was one of the first respondents. It started in 1999 as a think tank and still calls itself a think tank, but in 2014–2017, it acted more like a Google political arm than a think tank. Google’s Eric Schmidt was NAF president, his family foundation was a major donor, and it advocated net neutrality (Obamanet) and other business interests of Google. In 2017, NAF fired a researcher and closed a division advocating trust-busting the Big Tech.

Unsurprisingly, the article contains a bunch of misrepresentations and fallacies.  Although Dr. Twenge cites multiple research papers showing causation, the article claims:

“Already, experts on media and kids are cautioning against alarmism, using this as a teachable moment. In Psychology Today, Sarah Rose Cavanagh points out that Twenge’s evidence is “cherry-picked” and drawn from correlational research that does not show smartphones to be the cause of depression but instead shows “merely observed associations between certain variables.””

The article also blames Trump for the “way we work together and care for each other needs repair,” although the book used statistics for a period ending in 2015, before Trump was even a candidate. The referenced article, “No, Smartphones Are Not Destroying a Generation,” by Sarah Rose Cavanagh tells one true reason why the Left does not care about the health of a whole generation:

“… many of the beneficial effects of social media on adolescent development. For instance, teens can find other teens interested in the same social movements, connect with teens across the globe on interests like music and fashion, and feel embedded in a social network filled with meaning.”

Teens are not interested in “social movements” unless adults indoctrinate them.  In other words, the advocates praise social media for letting political powers around the world to indoctrinate American teenagers over the heads of their parents and even teachers! The article also falsely accuses Dr. Twenge of using cherry-picked, relying on a tweet made by Mr. Przybylski claiming that “the ‘evidence’ does not exist.” He might not be aware of the evidence.

 

Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGen . . . Or Maybe Not

NPR, October 2017

This article is not only denigrating the research reported in iGen but also personally attacking Dr. Twenge through some art critic and reporter going by the name of Annalisa Q. I doubt that she read the book or would understand it even if she did. She probably read the mentioned articles. But being a critic and reporter writing for a government-funded outlet, she had a mouthful to say:

The real problem with iGen is that Twenge draws her conclusions first and then collects evidence that supports those conclusions, ignoring evidence that doesn’t. … the one thing that unites the book is Twenge’s sloppiness,” and “It’s a small example, but the book is dizzying with this brand of deceptive spin.

Dr. Jean Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of more than 140 scientific publications and books.

 

it’s Time for a Serious Talk about the Science of Tech ‘Addiction’”

Wired, January 2018

Wired is a promotional publication of the Big Tech. Naturally, it relies on the “expertise” of Mr. Przybylski, who goes a few steps farther and lays the blame on Trump:

“TO HEAR ANDREW Przybylski tell it, the American 2016 presidential election is what really inflamed the public’s anxiety over the seductive power of screens. … But society’s present conversation—”chatter,” he calls it—can be traced back to three events, beginning with the political race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”

Then he repeats the “lack of evidence” lie:

“Bring these factors together, and Przybylski says you have all the ingredients necessary for alarmism and moral panic. What you’re missing, he says, is the only thing that matters: direct evidence.”

By the way, even the puny study conducted by Mr. Przybylski confirms that a typical use of social media/smartphones correlates with health damage. But he seems unable to even understand statistics in a research paper:

[Przybylski] When Twenge and her colleagues analyzed data from two nationally representative surveys of hundreds of thousands of kids, they calculated that social media exposure could explain 0.36 percent of the covariance for depressive symptoms in girls.

That’s not true.

So I ask him: When WIRED says that technology is hijacking your brain, and the New York Times says it’s time for Apple to design a less addictive iPhone, are we part of the problem? Are we all getting duped? “Yeah, you are,” he says. You absolutely are.”

But more than any of that, researchers will need buy-in from the companies that control that data.

Good luck! Unlike the tobacco companies that provided help and materials to researchers investigating negative health impact of cigarettes, the Big Tech hides data from all but the most sympathetic researchers. We need buy-in from honest Attorneys General, not from the perpetrators.

 

Facebook versus Science

The Big Tech rejects the science of SMDAH just as they reject climate-related sciences. The only difference is direction – climate alarmism vs SMDAH quietism. Facebook seems to be the worst offender. It funds and conducts studies that aim to prove that its service is not harmful, or even beneficial, if users use it “actively”—providing more free content and private data to Facebook. It also misleads readers about the results of the independent research. Facebook uses these factoids to advertise its service right on its corporate website in the Hard Questions series.

Facebook, Corporate News, December 15, 2017. “Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?” https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/12/hard-questions-is-spending-time-on-social-media-bad-for-us/

This is the Answer. By its prominence, timing, and authors, this article is Facebook’s official position on the subject. It ignores the most important studies on the subject, downplays concerns, and brandishes its own inadequate research.

 

“Psychologist Sherry Turkle asserts that mobile phones redefine modern relationships, making us “alone together.” In her generational analyses of teens, psychologist Jean Twenge notes an increase in teen depression corresponding with technology use. Both offer compelling research.

But it’s not the whole story.  Sociologist Claude Fischer argues that claims that technology drives us apart are largely supported by anecdotes and ignore the benefit, September 2015.”

(https://bostonreview.net/blog/claude-fischer-sherry-turkle-smart-phone-social-communication)

This “not whole story” argument relies on a review of a single book, which sociologist (sic) Claude Fischer had not even read: “Disclosure: I have not read Professor Turkle’s new book, only her Sunday Review essay.” Facebook puts it in a misleading content, creating an impression that it is a review of relevant science.

 

“Sociologist Keith Hampton’s study of public spaces suggests that people spend more time in public now — and that cell phones in public are more often used by people passing time on their own, rather than ignoring friends in person.”

(https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/technology-is-not-driving-us-apart-after-all.html)

This is a long and boring New York Times article about academics and their activities. The only conceivable relevant parts are the phrases “Mobile-phone users tended to be alone, not in groups” and “On the steps of the Met … [persons] inhabiting the same area for 15 seconds or more — constituted 7 percent of the total … . That was a 57 percent increase from 30 years earlier,” which are hearsay about a research putatively finished in 2008–2010. No reference to a published paper was included in the article. The users were adults, and very few adults used mobile phones for social media in 2008–2010, and adults use social media differently than adolescents. But even ignoring these defects, the research provides no evidence in favor of social media in the context of Facebook’s answer.

 

“This is important as we know that a person’s health and happiness relies heavily on the strength of their relationships.”

(Julianne Holt-Lunstad , Timothy Smith and Bradley Layton 2010)

This is true about real relationships, not about likes or follows on Facebook or Twitter. Multiple SMDAH papers stress this difference. The unfortunate phrase social media is an idiom, “an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements,” per Dictionary.com. Having relationships on social media is like riding a seahorse.

 

“According to the research, it really comes down to how you use the technology. … The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook.”

(Philippe Verduyn, et al. 2015) Philippe Verduyn, David Seungjae Lee, Jiyoung Park, Holly Shablack, Ariana Orvell, Joseph Bayer, Oscar Ybarra, John Jonides, and Ethan Kross (2015). Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence.

The research is interpreted by Facebook to show the advantages of “active” over “passive” Facebook usage. Unfortunately, its design does not allow such comparison. The “passive Facebook users” were artificially constrained, forced to be passive. That might explain higher affective well-being of active compared to passive users. The same result would be observed in a soccer player constrained to a spot on the field. A constrained boxer would end up even worse.

 

“A study we conducted with Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression and loneliness.”

(Moira Burke and Robert Kraut 2016)

Facebook directly lies about the results of the study. The paper’s abstract states, “Receiving targeted, composed communication from strong ties was associated with improvements in well-being while viewing friends’ wide-audience broadcasts and receiving one-click feedback were not. These results suggest that people derive benefits from online communication, as long it comes from people they care about and has been tailored for them.

The results of the study confirm a well-known fact: people do better when they receive letters and messages from friends. But nobody needs Facebook for that, and only a very small fraction of Facebook views are “targeted, composed communication from strong ties.” And even these views have been correlated with a decrease in “well-being” one month later (𝛽 = −.04, p = .029). Note that this study was led by Facebook employee, relied on internal Facebook data, and still did not yield positive results for Facebook. Ms. Burke is a coauthor of the Answer.

 

“The positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online.”

Reading, Writing, Relationships: The Impact of Social Network Sites on Relationships and Well-Being (2011), Moira Burke’s Dissertation, advised by Robert E. Kraut; http://repository.cmu.edu/dissertations/185/

These are the same authors. The Answer hides the connections of this dissertation to Facebook. Nevertheless, the text of the dissertation honestly discloses them:

– The thesis committee included Cameron Marlow from Facebook.

– Ms. Burke intended to join Facebook.

– Facebook was heavily involved. At least four different Facebook teams worked on Ms. Burke’s dissertation: “Many people at Facebook have made this work possible, particularly the tireless Data Infrastructure team who keep Hive buzzing, as well as several members of the Data Science, Market Research, and User Experience teams. Adam Kramer provided levity and R scripts, Ravi Grover graciously reviewed more newbish [sic] diffs than anyone ever should, and Tom Lento taught me enough python/Hive combinations to be dangerous. It was a joy working with Sheila Normile and Meg Sloan, and I’m looking forward to collaborations with them as well as with Jackie Cerretani Frank, Christina Holsberry, Jeff Wieland, and Mike Nowak.

But the Answer links to a page on cmu.edu, which lists only the names of Ms. Burke and Dr. Kraut. The video, embedded in the Answer, mentions that “Dr. Kraut regularly works with Facebook,” but the text does not disclose this fact.

[continues previous quote] Simply broadcasting status updates wasn’t enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.

This research shows no benefits from using Facebook compared with not using it. The second sentence does not make sense. I think a casual reader would only retain the association of Facebook with the notions of “positive,” “benefits,” and “well-being.” A reader might also learn that he or she should “actively engage” on Facebook. Another link points to

(Fenne große Deters and Matthias Mehl 2012) “Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment.” (free copy)

Curiously, Facebook says that simply updating a status is not enough and links a study that purports to show an improved well-being from more frequent status updates. Obviously, ordinary readers do not check, but where are the academics?

I use the phrase “purports to show” because the experimental group was very small, and the participants were recruited among students of the same university with a promise of a partial credit. Thus, the participants in the experimental and control groups could interact and might have played along with the researchers. Further, the effects were measured over a very short time (one week) and showed a temporary “improvement” of only one parameter out of the many measured feelings of loneliness. And the connection of this parameter to health was not clear.

The paper (the term intervention refers to the experimental group’s instructions) states, “Importantly, the intervention [the instruction to the experiment] did not affect participants’ subjective happiness (β = 0.08, t[83] = 1.26, p = .21) or levels of depression (β = −0.05, t[83] = −0.57, p = .57) suggesting that the effect is specific to experienced loneliness.” But even for loneliness (as defined in the psychological literature), “the correlation between increased status updating activity and decrease in loneliness was r = −.29 (p = .09) indicating a statistical trend that … just failed to meet the traditional threshold of statistical significance.” In other words, the experiment almost succeeded.

 

 (Stephanie Tobin, et al. 2014)  Threats to belonging on Facebook: lurking and ostracism (2014), Stephanie J. Tobin, Eric J. Vanman, Marnize Verreynne & Alexander K. Saeri, (free pdf)

This paper reports two experiments. In the first experiment, the participants in the experimental group (~50) were constrained in their Facebook use by instructions not to make posts. The researchers found that, after a few days, the experimental group had lower scores than the control group on “belonging and meaningful existence,” whatever that might be. In the second experiment, the participants were required to make posts using artificial profiles in a classroom setup. The experimental group (38 persons) did not receive feedback on their posts, while the control group did. Guess what, “need fulfillment was significantly lower in the no feedback condition than in the feedback condition.”

Even if we take this study seriously, despite the vague dependent variables and small size, comparison with soccer and boxing fully applies here. Adding artificial constraints on any activity annoys people engaged in that activity. The following experiment was conducted in the Queensland University, home to the notorious John Cook of skepticalscience.com.

 

“In an experiment at Cornell, stressed college students randomly assigned to scroll through their own Facebook profiles for five minutes experienced boosts in self-affirmation compared to students who looked at a stranger’s Facebook profile. …

In a follow-up study, the Cornell researchers put other students under stress by giving them negative feedback on a test and then gave them a choice of websites to visit afterward, including Facebook, YouTube, online music and online video games. They found that stressed students were twice as likely to choose Facebook to make themselves feel better as compared with students who hadn’t been put under stress.”

(Catalina Toma and Jeffrey Hancock 2013) “Self-Affirmation Underlies Facebook Use” (2013) (free pdf)

Both references link to the same paper, written based on a one-time lab experiment with 86 students participating for the sake of credit points. The first part measured self-affirmation, which was defined as “the process of bringing to awareness defining aspects of the self-concept.” But even when taken seriously despite the small size, the results shine no light on the question of whether spending time on social media is good for the user or not. The second part of the experiment compared students who “received negative feedback” (experimental group) with students who “received neutral feedback” (control group). The paper did not disclose the feedback; it only mentioned that after the feedback, 28 out of the 47 participants in the experimental group chose to browse their Facebook profiles instead of engaging in non-Facebook activities, compared with 12 out of the 39 participants in the control group. Even ignoring the issue of vague feedback, the experiment was too small to draw a conclusion from.

I find the use of the phrase “stressed students” in the Facebook’s Answer misleading. It brings to mind a picture of a student who sleeps four hours a day—not somebody who received “negative feedback” in an experiment, for which he received credit points.

 

In sum, our research and other academic literature suggests that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being.

The statement in the Facebook’s Answer is trivial. It is equally true for tobacco, alcohol, botulinum toxin (Botox), and almost everything else. But most Facebook users use Facebook in their own manner, and Facebook is likely to harm their mental health. The link points to the following:

(Philippe Verduyn, Oscar Ybarra , et al. 2017) “Do Social Network Sites Enhance or Undermine Subjective Well‐Being? A Critical Review” (2017). Philippe Verduyn, Oscar Ybarra, Maxime Résibois, John Jonides, Ethan Kross. (free pdf)

This paper feels strangely familiar. First, a large part of it is devoted to recommendations for policymakers and other parties. Second, it ignores some of the most significant studies on the subject, such as the work of Dr. Jeanne Twenge. It reviews existing literature, much of which is written by its authors, which shows the negative impact of social media on its users. Then it mentions a few inconclusive or misinterpreted studies, some of which are addressed in my paper, and arrives at what seem to be predetermined conclusions: “Does usage of social network sites increase or decrease subjective well-being? Based on the literature available at this time, the answer is: It depends on how one uses them.” This paper seems to be the foundation for the quietist statement from AAP (November 2016), which is discussed below.

Summary of the Facebook’s Answer

This Answer is part of Facebook’s service description. It is considered by Facebook users to be close to absolute truth in the real world: a huge company describing the health effects of its service, used by hundreds of millions of children and adults, to its users and investors. Nevertheless, it is a self-serving perversion of science. The “passive consuming information is bad, actively interacting with people is good” representation serves Facebook’s business model. The business model of Facebook and other social media platforms is commercializing user-generated content. Users generate content at no cost to Facebook. Comments and Likes are also content. When users generate content, they also provide more private data about themselves to Facebook than when they passively consume information (although Facebook tracks mouse movements and can glean some data about the users even when they “passively consume information”). In its Answer, Facebook tells users that it is better for them to generate content for Facebook. Technically, Facebook misleads users into believing that they interact with other people when they interact only with the Facebook database.

Readers’ Comments on Facebook’s Answer

To be fair to Facebook, it allowed comments on this Answer, and very caustic comments came out on top. Here are two of them, as of July 9, 2018:

James Lee

So the FB researchers have “discovered” that if FB users only use it lightly it’s bad for them, but, if users immerse themselves in it even more by relying on FB to communicate and interact with other FB users, then it’s good for them. Got it. No conflict of interest for the FB researchers here at all. 

Sholto Ramsay

    Agree – the reason we are unhappy is:

  1. We are not using FB enough
  2. We are not using it right.

Good news that they could find some pet researchers to give them some cover on this.

More Facebook-by-Facebook Research

A relevant paper not included in the Answer is this:

(Moira Burke, Robert Kraut and Cameron Marlow, Social capital on facebook: differentiating uses and users 2011) CHI ’11 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

The authors are a Facebook team. The paper discloses, “This project was supported by NSF IIS-0729286 and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship,” as if Facebook does not have enough money to buy a study it wants. The paper claims that some types of Facebook use increase “bridging social capital” for some types of users. It distinguishes between three types of Facebook use: (1) directed communication with individual friends consists of personal, one-on-one exchanges … (2) passive consumption of social news, when one reads others’ updates, and (3) broadcasting, when one writes them for others’ consumption, are not targeted at a particular other.

This study has been cited by 552 papers, according to Google Scholar, a very high number for this area. It was conducted from 2009 to 2010. Its methodology is deeply flawed; suffice to say that two-thirds of the initial participants dropped out of the study. It also uses “secret science”—data available only to Facebook. No data files are attached to the paper or offered to other researchers. The study is published in conference proceedings, possibly without any peer review. Even worse, it is cited for what it does not claim—that “active” use of Facebook increases personal well-being or some of its parameters. Terms such as active use or active engagement were not used in the paper. One might consider directed communication and broadcasting to seem like active use. But the paper says, “Of the three types of social engagement provided by SNS, only directed, person-to-person exchanges were shown to be associated with increases in bridging social capital.” In other words, the Facebook’s own study using Facebook data and Facebook models has shown that Facebook might be good for something only when it is used as an instant messenger or e-mail—not as Facebook!

 

American Academy of Pediatrics

Is the American Academy of Pediatrics of any help? No, it isn’t. Its policy statement, “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents” (Council on Communications and Media, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162592) last revised in November 2016, retains some generic social media concerns:

“The mentioned concerns include cyberbullying, sexting, and online solicitation; exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and health-risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual behaviors, self-injury, and disordered eating; greater risk of sleep disturbances; and so on.”

But all mentions of Facebook depression are removed, and Facebook Addiction Disorder is not mentioned. Worse, it is followed by the new section Social Media and Mental Health, which toes the Big Tech line:

“Research studies have identified both benefits and concerns regarding mental health and social media use. Benefits from the use of social media in moderation include the opportunity for enhanced social support and connection. [not sourced – LG] Research has suggested a U-shaped relationship between Internet use and depression, with increased risks of depression at both the high and low ends of Internet use.46,47 [the Internet use is too broad category for inclusion in the section about Social Media – LG] One study found that older adolescents who used social media passively (eg, viewing others’ photos) reported declines in life satisfaction, whereas those who interacted with others and posted content did not experience these declines.48 [False. The cited study does support the first statement of the sentence (decline in life satisfaction). It does not report anything to support the second statement (no decline when used “not passively”). – LG] Thus, in addition to the number of hours an individual spends on social media, a key factor is how social media is used. [not sourced and meaningless, because doesn’t suggest how social media should be used – LG]”

This statement has not been updated since November 2016. AAP is a member of MedSocCon, which claims that the health of adults and children is harmed by climate change, and counsels doctors to incorporate this lie in their medical practice.

 

Discussion

The Big Tech replays the largely fictional “Big Tobacco playbook” in real life. So far, the Big Tech and its accomplices have damaged, rather than destroyed, a generation. But they act as if they were the Masters of the Universe: wage war on dissent, make alliances with the worst political forces of the UN and EU, distract and desensitize the public with climate alarmism and other political agendas, and mistakenly believe that real scientists are for sale like Democratic politicians. Thus, there is no reason to think that they would stop at anything.

Britain seems to lead in awareness of the problem (e.g. Social media is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep)

Conflict of Interest Statement and Disclaimer

Facebook disabled my account on November 6, the election day, apparently to protect elections from interference by Trump supporters. Facebook had verified me as an American citizen long ago. Google and Twitter took similar actions against me. Because of that, I might feel an extra animus toward them.

Nothing in this paper is meant to cast doubt on the integrity or qualifications of the mentioned researchers or their coauthors.

References

Catalina Toma, and Jeffrey Hancock. 2013. “Self-Affirmation Underlies Facebook Use.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Sage Journal). https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167212474694

Fenne große Deters, and Matthias Mehl. 2012. “Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment.” Social Psychological and Personality Science (Sage Journals). https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550612469233

Julianne Holt-Lunstad , Timothy Smith, and Bradley Layton. 2010. “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review.” PLOS Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

Moira Burke , and Robert Kraut. 2016. “The Relationship Between Facebook Use and Well-Being Depends on Communication Type and Tie Strength.” Edited by FACEBOOK-linked. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12162

Moira Burke, Robert Kraut, and Cameron Marlow. 2011. “Social capital on facebook: differentiating uses and users.” Edited by FACEBOOK-linked. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. https://doi.org/10.1145/1978942.1979023

Philippe Verduyn, David Seungjae Lee, Jiyoung Park , Holly Shablack, Ariana Orvell, Joseph Bayer, Oscar Ybarra, John Jonides, and Ethan Kross. 2015. “Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (American Psychological Association (APA)). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000057

Philippe Verduyn, Oscar Ybarra , Maxime Résibois, John Jonides , and Ethan Kross. 2017. “Do Social Network Sites Enhance or Undermine Subjective Well‐Being? A Critical Review.” https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12033

Stephanie Tobin, Eric Vanman, Marnize Verreynne , and Alexander Saeri. 2014. “Threats to belonging on Facebook: lurking and ostracism.” Social Influence (Taylor Francis). https://doi.org/10.1080/15534510.2014.893924

32 thoughts on “Suppression of Information and Research on Social Media Damage to Adolescents’ Health. 2/2

    • It is whatever interests Anthony Watt, or his crew, and that they think might interest the followers of this blog.
      The one comment I would make on the post is that “social science” is mostly not science yet. It might eventually become science, but the general lack of rigor leaves conclusions tentative.
      The issue with Facebook is that “regulating” it might make it’s incumbency nearly permanent, as was the case with Ma Bell, a “regulated” monopoly.

      • They’re being paid to push it. There’s a lot of money tied up in forcing governments to force unreliables on us.

    • The About page says:

      About Watts Up With That? News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts…

  1. I am a big advocate of net neutrality, but not the way it was done before. My definition of net neutrality is that internet providers may not block or discriminate against any traffic or, through action, cause traffic to be blocked or discriminated against.

    I have not finished reading this yet, but from the part I read I was reminded of something. If you have an Android phone, go to https://blokada.org/. Put that on your phone. You will be surprised how many times your Android phone talks to Google and others.

  2. The social media depression that is becoming rampant is in part, due to all the impending doom and gloom of the climate disaster that they say now is happening right in front of our eyes. People are bombarded with this pending disaster now everywhere they turn. The media (ABC-BBC-CBC-PBS-CNN) in general is non stop with the global warming disaster, the Gov’t says we have to raise carbon taxes to ‘tackle’ global warming, and academia keeps pushing the meme like an opioid pusher does with junkies. My 12 year old niece came home from school crying, saying that are we all going to die…the world is ending and we are all going to fry like we are being sent to hell. The schools are pushing this all so hard, that the kids have a lawsuit against the USA Gov’t. On social media, like Facebook and Twitter, alarmist trolls patrol the sites bullying anybody that might not agree with all the latest special assessments from the IPCC, and just this weekend, the U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report was released stating it is worse than we thought.

    It is an evil mania that is sweeping the world, and with every little weather event when the wind huffs, or a normal hurricane or cyclone happens, this is now ‘evidence’. Even a high King tide, such a superstorm Sandy, or a dyke fails in Hurricane Catrina, and most of it is blamed on CAGW climate change as evidence and that unless we make a personal sacrifice, like reducing our fossil fuel usage, this is going to be the new normal. Unfortunately, if they keep with just reporting all the weather events and damages, they will have forever to keep this meme going, because even if we stopped all fossil fuels tomorrow, the weather events are never going to stop. Then what will they blame it on, after the economy is crushed?

    Nothing has really changed in thousands of years, and that includes human sacrifice. It is now only through advanced social media, that the edict is pronounced in real time every little weather event causing some disaster, and that now humans are going to have to sacrifice energy to keep a modern life style going. Or pay quadruple for some form of unreliable renewables that has only contributed 1% in all these years, and really to only the electricity market. Unreliable’s haven’t made a dent in any other category that we require long chain carbon molecules for such as speciality manufacturing thousands of products. Like nitrogen to fertilize our food, that keeps 7.4 billion people fed daily. We will always be a carbon based economy and life form so this talk of a low carbon economy is just all a pack of lies. This should be what social media is used for, to haul down these self appointed ‘priests’ of doom in the climate change industry. If there is one good reason why Trump got elected, it should be to turn his Twitter account against these high priests, and take them down. And out. The 2020 election should be on the issue of Marxist Socialism control of people through the CAGW climate change narrative as being promoted by the new immature Democratic congress. This is an opportunity to use the same social media to tell the truth of Science and stop this new cult religion of getting a toehold in our advanced economies of the West. It can be done, but I think the Republican leadership and Trump especially will have to see the incredible damage that this would cause if they were to be elected. Plus it would win them the election again, if it is a contest between the carbon taxes and radical green shaft being proposed by the unhinged Democrats. Who is going to vote for a carbon tax on everything? France is finally figuring this out.

    • Earthling2:

      One can make the case that the Democrats won the House because of “foreign” interference in the mid-term elections that favored the Democratic Party.

      The IPCC issued a “Special Report” on Oct. 8, just before the elections, which warned that we have only 12 years before climate catastrophe occurs. This targeted the youth and suburban women, who voted for the Democrats because they support the greenhouse gas hoax, and who could be expected to take necessary action, as opposed to the Republicans who (correctly) deny man-made global warming due to greenhouse gasses and would probably not take any action. This interference in our elections should be investigated!

      • Yes, I never thought about that Burl, but you are completely right. It was the radical left that was spewing the climate change narrative as the Green New Deal, and that was perfectly timed to be just in time for the midterm elections as to cause people to consider the whole climate change narrative before they cast their vote. Looking back now, I would bet that the IPCC would have thought what would have been their best release date to interfere with the election. Otherwise why release it just before the midterm elections, which would be known to cause a disadvantage to the Republicans. But even if questioned on that, I bet they would say that is fair game.

        • I suspect that there was actually collusion between the Democratic Party and the IPCC.

          Strangely, Climate Change was rarely mentioned by the Democrats in the run-up to the mid-term election: not necessary, since they had that base already covered by the forth-coming IPCC “October Surprise”.

    • Google, Twitter and Facebook have all been caught suppressing conservative viewpoints and users. They do this by shadow banning, complete banning, and manipulating search results. When caught they claim it was just an honest mistake.

      Organized groups brigade — make coordinated efforts to flag conservative content and ban the creators. Right Wing Watch publicly admitted doing this. They are now pressuring payment providers to cut of services of the content creators.

        • I don’t understand your question. I pointed out numerous examples of how the big Social Media use their power to suppress information and opposing political views.

          • “I don’t understand your question.”
            This article is headed
            “Suppression of Information and Research… “
            So where is the evidence that information and research was suppressed? You give just the usual claims that someone, somewhere did something, without evidence, of course. But this article makes a specific claim. I would expect to see at least something specific to support it.

          • Does it matter? They have history behavior.

            From Vice: Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results — a technique known as “shadow banning” — in what it says is a side effect of its attempts to improve the quality of discourse on the platform.

            https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/43paqq/twitter-is-shadow-banning-prominent-republicans-like-the-rnc-chair-and-trump-jrs-spokesman.

            From Breitbart:

            Facebook has admitted to deliberately limiting posts that share links to news stories the site considers “fake,” reducing their reach by up to 80 percent.

            https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/07/13/facebook-admits-to-shadowbanning-news-it-considers-fake/

            From the American Thinker

            Diamond & Silk, two tremendously funny comics with a huge following who support President Trump, have been “shadowbanned” by Facebook, meaning, their posts are not being fed into the feeds of their subscribers, in what’s known as “deplatforming.” Facebook did it by labeling the women “dangerous to the community” and told them there was no appeal.

            https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/04/diamond_and_silk_shadowbanned_by_facebook_just_in_time_for_midterms.html

            From the Daily Wire:

            James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released a bombshell report on Thursday that shows Twitter employees admitting to censoring right-leaning accounts, including banning them from the network because they do not agree with their political views

            https://www.dailywire.com/news/25744/bombshell-report-twitter-admits-censoring-ryan-saavedra

            ________

            So, yes they do suppress information. You can’y dispute that.

          • The Daily Wire: “James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released a bombshell report on Thursday that shows Twitter employees admitting to censoring right-leaning accounts, including banning them from the network because they do not agree with their political views”

            Breitbart: “Facebook simultaneously touted its commitment to “free speech” while stating that it limits the visibility on posts it doesn’t like by up to 80 percent.”

            The Hill: ““As someone who has my own podcast as from Right Wing Watch, and has struggled to get it on Spotify, I thought it was kind of weird that Alex Jones got on. …Once that was on the national attention, that sort of raised the interest of some reporters who asked other tech companies about their decisions to host Alex Jones,” Holt said.

            Several tech giants, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Google, all banned Infowars within 12 hours of each other.”

            I could go on, but you get the idea — Yes, the Social Media Giants actively suppress information and viewpoints they don’t like.

          • “Does it matter?”
            Yes, of course it matters. If you keep making claims with no basis, just saying that, well, that’s OK because “They have history behavior”, then who can believe the history? Will each case just turn out to have its emptiness justified only by a claim that there is so much more elsewhere.

            In fact I see your links relate not to actual banning but to “shadow banning”, which seems to just mean not giving them the prominence someone thinks they deserve. And for the first link, I see the reporter says they no longer do even that.

          • Here’s a link to The Hill article about Info Wars not just being banned but totally deplatformed:

            “As someone who has my own podcast as from Right Wing Watch, and has struggled to get it on Spotify, I thought it was kind of weird that Alex Jones got on. …Once that was on the national attention, that sort of raised the interest of some reporters who asked other tech companies about their decisions to host Alex Jones,” Holt said.

            Several tech giants, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Google, all banned Infowars within 12 hours of each other.

            https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/401115-twitter-user-who-helped-kick-alex-jones-off-spotify-received-death-threats

            ——

            Nick, you deliberately ignore my point: they have been caught suppressing information. I don’t care whether they did in this particular case. It is irrelevant. How many times does a criminal have to be convicted of the same crime before you call him a criminal?

          • “They have history behavior”, then who can believe the history? Will each case just turn out to have its emptiness justified only by a claim that there is so much more elsewhere.” ~ Nick Stokes

            LMAO They publicly admitted their behavior to suppress information they didn’t like. If that is not proof for you, what is?

            You are an intelligent guy, Nick, but pathetically woeful at providing an intelligent, logical argument.

          • Nick Stokes- as someone familiar with statistics you, of all people, should know that virtually all of the conclusions from psychology/psychiatry studies usually don’t show strong statistical results. A Psych study with 50 participants, conducted once, would be lucky to get a simple correlation coefficent above 0.30. In most of science that it would be called random chance.

            Heck, when I was doing extensive experimental designs at work the statisticians would get antsy at using an Rsq value having a value under .8, and then only as a cutoff for inclusion in the next experiment.

            Studies of IQ do better, but even there they consider 0.6 good, is not much better, and IQ testing is the pinnacle for actual results.
            In particle physics they prefer to see “nine nines” x.999999999, repeated in 3-4 experiments to qualify as a believable result.

            More to the point is the practical data that rates of depression are increasing among tees, wide and intensive use of social media pushes out healthier behavior, and other problems. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that when a kid gets a smart phone(with poorly supervised limits) and grades drop, friends don’t drop by, and the kid can’t even sit at the dinner table without the phone that something is wrong.

          • Reg, isn’t it interesting that you never hear left wing pundits complain of these things happening?

            Nor do these companies ever admit to censoring the left wing speakers.

          • “Nick Stokes- as someone familiar with statistics you, of all people…”
            What has this to do with anything I said? I am not a fan of social media, or of stopping people from using it if they want to. I simply noted that this post was headed
            “Suppression of Information and Research on Social Media Damage to Adolescents’ Health”
            and asked what acts of suppression does it refer to, and who suppressed what? No-one seems to know.

  3. At a quick sniff, this smells a lot like another moral panic in the making. Moral panics are a great thing: They give the controllers something else to control, and the hard-core bansters something else to try to ban.

    (I speak as one who believes totally in Social Media. E-mail. Telephones (for oral-aural communications). The thingie where you use some sort of stick-like tool to make marks on a light-toned flat sheet-like substance, which you then fold up, insert into a case, seal the case, and give to the Pony Express rider to deliver to the intended recipient. Finally, there is also the face-to-face, direct conversation among persons gathered together somewhere. Those are the only forms of S.M. I use….)

    .

    It’s a shame that the controllers and the bansters, the hypesters and the promoters of moral panics have such ascendancy over our culture. Because it’s always possible that there really is a serious downside to overuse or misuse or abuse of some popular commodity or service. Personally, I have to watch out for excesses of mine that might easily hook into my tendency to depression, and I could easily believe that so-called “social media” can become an obsession and hence depressive.

    In addition to What Earthling2 Said.

  4. I think the people who have problems with Social Media are those with low self-esteem. Young people no doubt suffer more from this than older folks since they haven’t lived long enough and experienced enough to have gained confidence in themselves naturally. So they seek validation in Social Media and if they don’t get it, they get depressed.

    It’s easy to brainwash people who are in this situation. They are easily confused and easily led when under stress to conform to the majority viewpoint.

    We have a lot of vulnerable people in the world and a lot of other people using Social Media to try and take advantage of them for one reason or another.

    I don’t know what the solution to this is other than to shine the light of truth on the problem.

  5. Having read this I’m rather glad I don’t have Twitface or any of the other social media thingies I do use some of the search engines but tend to put in specific searches rather than broad sweeps which can produce a lot of very biased results.

    James Bull

  6. HOGWASH

    Maybe these kids are depressed because every other minute they are barraged with pharmaceutical ads for depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, bladder control, fibromyalgia, migranes…etc.

    As someone that cut off regular TV years ago, whenever I watch it I feel as if I’ve been attacked with stuff I don’t even have just to make a buck on whatever new medicine or snake oil is being pushed.

    As for the rest of it….fear mongering. Sorry. The YOUTH OF TODAY ARE BEING CORRUPTED. Yea, yea…we’ve heard this before all….now go drink some Hemlock and leave the rest of us alone.

  7. Internet and depression: this connection was hypothesized in the 1990s. American Psychologist published a study circa year 2000 – the study would have been run circa 1996-1999. In this study, the researchers took depression measurement (self report questionnaire) for a group of people who did not yet have home internet. They provided half the group with home internet, and left the other half alone.

    This was when many, but not all, had internet. This was when AOL was sending those discs out like crazy, if you recall. I first had internet maybe 1996.

    I cannot recall the surveillance time period – maybe half a year. Compared with baseline depression scores, those who had been provided internet had higher levels of depression symptoms, per the questionnaire.

    This possibility has been out there since mid-1990s, and empirical evidence suggesting internet – depression published since this time – 20 years ago.

    • This might be the article I am recalling:
      Kraut R, Patterson M, Lundmark V, Kiesler S, Mukopadhyay T, Scherlis W. Internet paradox. A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? Am Psychol. 1998 Sep;53(9):1017-31.

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