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Facebook Shares New Data on the Psychological Impacts of Social Comparison, and How It Can Be Reduced



Do you ever scroll through your Instagram feed and feel like you’re not doing enough with your life? Do you ever see Facebook updates from old friends and feel inadequate in your own everyday struggles and issues?

Social comparison is a real and significant issue with social media platforms – but it’s also an unrealistic and unfair measure to put on yourself. The thing is, you’re looking at someone else’s highlights. Not many people post about their daily challenges and issues, but they do post about their wins – which means that while it may seem like their lives are great, and better than yours appears to be, nobody’s perfect. Everyone has their own problems to overcome. But when you’re only seeing one side of the coin, that can lead to negative self-perception.

So what can be done about? Recently, Facebook commissioned a study into the impacts of social comparison, using the input of 37,000 survey respondents, and comparing their thoughts against how they used Facebook over a set period of time. 

The results are largely as you might expect – the data shows that the following experiences worsen the effects of social comparison:

  • Seeing proportionally more positivity in others’ posts
  • Spending more time looking at profiles, particularly one’s own
  • Seeing more content from people about their same age
  • Having more chances for comparison, through either larger Facebook friend networks or more time spent on Facebook
  • Seeing more posts that have a high number of likes or comments can make social comparison worse

The last point is interesting from an algorithm perspective. Facebook’s almighty News Feed algorithm boosts the distribution of posts which generate more likes and comments – but the data here suggests that this could worsen social comparison. 

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So does Facebook need to update its approach? And if so, what impact would that have on engagement more broadly?

In their expanded findings, the researchers note that teenage users experience more social comparison on Facebook than adults, while women tend to experience more social comparison then men – though in some Eastern countries, the opposite is true.

Yet, even with these results, half of the respondents said that they would still prefer to have seen the content that triggered their reaction: 

“One surprising finding was when we asked people to think of a recent time when they felt worse about themselves: One in five could recall a time they felt worse after seeing a post. We then asked if they wished they hadn’t seen the post, and only half said they wished they hadn’t seen it, while a third felt very happy for the poster.”

In their recommendations stemming from this, the researchers suggest that people could look to use Facebook’s existing tools, like unfollow and snooze, to better manage their time on the platform. Many of the survey respondents were not aware of these functions – maybe Facebook could look to promote them more overtly to raise awareness.

The researchers also recommend that people should look to “reduce focus on feedback counts on other people’s posts”.

Which Facebook could also do, right? As noted, Facebook could update its algorithm to reduce the emphasis on content engagement, which would also likely reduce social comparison. 

But would that be a better experience?

Within its overview of the findings, Facebook says that the News Feed does actually seek to promote more ‘meaningful interactions’ in line with this.

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Facebook points to this 2018 News Feed algorithm update:

“Today, we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed.”

But that probably doesn’t help much in this case, as its this type of social comparison, with content from people you know, that causes the problem. But you may well still interact with those posts, so the impact of the ‘meaningful interactions’ update is probably moot in this respect.

The research does, however, raise interesting questions, and points to both an ongoing lack of digital literacy, and issues with the way that Facebook prioritizes content distribution. Really, if you could improve the first point, maybe an algorithm wouldn’t even be needed – if more people understood how they could customize their News Feed to their liking, maybe Facebook wouldn’t need a process to highlight the best content, and boost user engagement. 

But it doesn’t seem like that’s ever going to be a reality. If Facebook were to switch off its algorithm today, user feeds would be flooded with junk, Pages would up their posting frequency to capitalize – and as a result, people would simply stop using the app as much. An argument could be made that Page content could still be limited, leaving users to manage their personal contacts. That could work – but right now, based on the data available, showing people the posts that they’re more likely to engage with, via an algorithm feed, is the best way for Facebook to maximize performance.

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But it may also help fuel negative comparison.

How does Facebook combat this? Given that it’s released this data, I suspect Facebook may have some form of solution in the works, and it’ll be interesting to see if they are able to change the focus of the algorithm to better facilitate more positive engagement.

You can read the full “Social Comparison and Facebook: Feedback, Positivity, and Opportunities for Comparison” paper here

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Meta’s Developing the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision



Meta's Developing the World's Fastest AI Supercomputer to Fuel its Metaverse Vision

As it looks to a future in the currently theoretical ‘metaverse’, Meta will need to up its computing power and systems in order to facilitate simultaneous connection in wholly immersive digital worlds, while it’ll also need more advanced computing power to fuel the next stage of its AI plans, in various forms.

Which is why Meta is developing a new AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), which it says will eventually become the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, when it’s fully built out by mid-2022.

The advanced system will eventually be able to perform ‘5 exaflops of mixed precision compute’ at peak. Which, I have no real idea of what that truly means, but basically, Meta’s new, advanced computational system will be able to process huge amounts of data, facilitating development in a wide range of applications, with a specific view towards the next stage of its metaverse vision.

As explained by Meta:

RSC will help Meta’s AI researchers build new and better AI models that can learn from trillions of examples; work across hundreds of different languages; seamlessly analyze text, images, and video together; develop new augmented reality tools; and much more. We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together.”

AR is clearly a key focus, with Meta developing its own AR-enabled glasses that will expand the use cases for the technology. The RSC will provide increased capacity to develop more complex AR systems, which could advance Meta’s tools beyond what’s currently available, which would ideally see its AR glasses become the top of the line, most advanced model available, helping Meta potentially dominate the space over rivals Snapchat and Apple.

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Unless, of course, Snap and Apple team up, which is my prediction. But even so, with the additional computing power of the RSC behind it, Meta could still be well ahead, which could be a key step in bridging our current online experience to the next stage.

Which is where Meta is really focused:

“Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform – the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.

It’s worth noting here that Meta specifically notes that the metaverse will take years to develop, it’s not something that’s happening overnight, nor will it become an all-immersive, integrated world by next year. Which is why any company or project that’s pitching itself as ‘metaverse ready’ is kidding itself – the metaverse, as it’s broadly envisioned, will require massive collaboration between platforms, in order to transfer your digital identity between virtual worlds, and take your avatars, skins, digital items, and more with you.

Meta is keen to reiterate that it won’t own that space, as such:

No one company can (or should) build the metaverse alone. It will be built by people and businesses all over the world. And it’ll be important that experiences built by different companies or people, like avatars or virtual worlds, work together.

But really, Meta is best-placed to host the party, via its industry-leading consumer VR tools and advanced computing systems like RSC, which will give it a significant advantage in dictating what the metaverse will be, and who will be able to sign up.

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Eventually, this will require industry agreement on schemas and systems that will likely enable any service to join. But they’ll still need a host platform, along with software/hardware connection. Meta will be at the forefront of that aspect, which, again, will see it well-placed to define the rules of the space, and dominate the next stage of digital connection – whether it technically ‘owns’ it or not.

But it is worth noting that the metaverse does not exist yet, not in any form, and any platform or project that claims otherwise is ultimately misleading. Those NFT projects that claim to be ‘metaverse-ready’, yeah, no, maybe avoid them.

Eventually, Meta’s RSC will give it significant advantages in developing new systems for everything from combating harmful content on its platforms to building entirely new user experiences. The potential here is massive, and while it will take time to see the results of these developments, it’ll be interesting to see how Meta’s processes evolve in turn, and whether these advanced systems result in a significant acceleration in its development cycles.

You can read more technical details on Meta’s RSC project here.

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TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement



TikTok Partners with Zefr to Offer Increased Assurance on Safe Ad Placement

TikTok has partnered with brand suitability platform Zefr on a new brand safety post-bid measurement solution for in-feed ads, which will enable advertisers to ensure that their TikTok promotions don’t appear alongside potentially offensive material.

As you can see here, using Zefr’s dashboard, which provides insights into each campaign by mapping it against the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) Suitability Risk categories, advertisers will now be able to ensure that their TikTok ads are not shown next to content that they don’t want to be associated with.

As explained by TikTok:

“This solution will provide advertisers with campaign insights into brand safety and brand suitability for their TikTok campaigns. These insights provide clients with third-party impartial reassurance that their investment is delivered next to content suitable for their brand, protecting brand reputation and mitigating risk.”

Zefr’s advanced ‘Cognition AI’ process utilizes audio, text, and frame-by-frame video analysis, along with scaled human review, to determine brand safety, and provide full assurance on potential ad placement.

With TikTok’s challenges and posts sometimes veering into dangerous territory, the option will help to reassure brands that their campaigns won’t end up being associated with potential harm, which could help TikTok secure even more ad spend.

Though it could be difficult to 100% guarantee success here. For example, the recent ‘Milk Crate Challenge’ on TikTok started off innocently enough, but eventually lead to increasingly risky and dangerous behaviors, which resulted in serious injuries to some participants. Other TikTok challenges could follow a similar evolution – though the additional assurance of Zefr’s systems will ideally help to catch these out before they become a potential brand risk, or at the least, as soon as they’re identified as a problem.

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It’s a good integration, and another key step in TikTok’s broader expansion of its ad tools.

The new TikTok Zefr integration is available to advertisers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

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How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]



How to Elevate Your Social Media ROI [Infographic]

Looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2022?

As we head into the new year, it’s worth revising your business goals, and establishing a clear direction for your digital marketing process. Maybe you’re happy with the growth and interaction you’re seeing, and how that’s then leading to conversion, but over the past two years, in particular, there’s no doubt been some level of disruption to your marketing plans.

With that in mind, this infographic from the team at Click Dimensions could help. They’ve put together a simple overview of how to establish your social media marketing goals, including which metrics to focus on, how to increase engagement, and the importance of adapting as things progress.

It could help to spark some new thinking in your approach – check out the full infographic below.

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