This past week Big Tech monopolies Twitter and Facebook banned President Donald Trump from their platforms. The “purge” expanded in a surprise move when Parler, a conservative version of Twitter, announced Amazon would be shutting them down as early as Sunday night.
However, conservatives and others were warned that the social media platforms were not their friends and researched showed that they were not good for their mental health.
That research by psychologist Melissa G. Hunt, who published her findings in the December 2018, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
Hunt’s research team designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with a cohort of undergraduates, and then collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running the background.
Each of 143 participants completed a survey to determine mood and well-being at the study’s start, plus shared shots of their iPhone battery screens to offer a week’s worth of baseline social-media data. Participants were then randomly assigned to a control group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behavior, or an experimental group that limited time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to 10 minutes per platform per day.
For the next three weeks, participants shared iPhone battery screenshots to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual. With those data in hand, Hunt then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
“Here’s the bottom line,” said Hunt in 2018. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”
According to Hunt, because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it’s not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. She also hesitated to say that these findings would replicate for other age groups or in different settings.
What is clear is that those who have been purged might use the time they spent on the social media platforms to organize efforts to ensure election victories in the future.