Make Social Media a Safe Place for Mental Health

Make Social Media a Safe Place for Mental Health

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Kaitlyn Waynick started this petition to Facebook and

Do you know someone who has such bad posting-anxiety that they have to delete the Instagram app after posting a picture? Or, have you ever clicked on Tik Tok, closed it, then opened it again without knowing why? What about feeling bad about yourself after viewing a “fitness influencer” account? 

All of these behaviors are very common, but they shouldn’t be considered normal. Social media can be a very toxic place, and little has been done to remedy the issue. These platforms are used to validate self-worth, fill voids, and define what the “perfect body” is. They promote false ideals of reality that seep into our everyday lives and lead to serious mental health consequences such as anxiety or depression. In recent years, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have received immense pressure to do something about this mental health crisis, yet, little headway has been made. 


One in three people in the world use social media. Join us in demanding that Facebook and Instagram make these three changes to their platforms- for the sake of their users’ mental health.


REMOVE LIKES FOR GOOD: In November of 2019, Instagram announced their initiative to “remove likes” from their platform in order to make their app a less competitive place. This speaks to the Social Comparison Theory: a concept which states that it is the natural tendency of humans to compare themselves to each other, resulting in feelings of dissatisfaction, guilt, remorse, disordered eating, lying, etc. This phenomenon has been perpetuated by social media apps, where comparison is expressed through the form of the “like.” However, to claim that Instagram is “taking away likes” is misleading. When the testing period is over and all Instagram users can no longer see total like-counts on others’ photos, they will still receive notifications on their own photos. This means that likes, the internal factor by which people quantify their comparisons to others, will still be available for the individual users’ scrutiny. We are calling on Facebook and Instagram to remove likes for good, rather than just hiding them. 

CUT BACK ON NOTIFICATIONS: Social media overuse and addiction can lead to serious mental health consequences such as: anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, or feelings of isolation. However, Facebook and Instagram both have algorithms to make users click on their apps as much as possible. On Facebook, the more content a user interacts with, the more notifications they receive. Consequently, the more notifications they receive, the more time they will spend on the app. As for Instagram, they rely on the Variable-Ratio Algorithm: a system that withholds notifications on photos til the app is opened, when the likes are then delivered in a larger burst. This system balances the positive and negative reward systems in users’ brains, pushing people to become habitual users. We are calling on Facebook and Instagram to cut back on notifications by only sending notifications that users ask for such as: individual likes, comments, and followers, or post-notifications that the user turns on themselves. 
 

DEVELOP NUTRITION-REVIEW FACT-CHECK TECHNOLOGY: Our bodies were not made to diet. In the early 19th century, people who had more fat on their bodies tended to be demonized groups such as women or POC. So, early evolutionary biologists in the 19th century started to point to “fatness” as a mark of “evolutionary inferiority.” So began the obsession with dieting and the weight loss industry. However, dieting can slow down your metabolism and lead to: loss of strength, coordination, and eating disorders. Nevertheless, social media continues to perpetuate toxic diet culture by promoting phony diet plans and weight loss products that often do not have any sort of nutritional basis. Because of this, many teens grow up thinking that it is normal to eat 1,000 calories a day or drink dangerous “weight loss teas” that are really just laxatives. We are calling on Facebook and Instagram to develop a fact-checking team and algorithm to sensor posts that promote diets or products without proper nutritional basis. As for posts that cannot be deemed “true or untrue” they should be labeled with banners that give warning to the unverified information. 

These solutions are needed now more than ever. A survey by EMarketer found that over 50% of respondents believe that they are using social media more since the pandemic began. Increased use of social media, without any sort of change or regulation, will only lead to an increase in negative mental health consequences. Help us make social media a safe place for its users, before it’s too late. 


Sign our petition today to make Facebook and Instagram take accountability for their actions. 

 

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