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Life after Facebook

by | Feature

Feb. 11, 19 | 1:07 pm

DUBAI: Imagine a world without Facebook. Can you?

Researchers at Stanford University and New York University did more than that, actually and had nearly 3,000 users agreed and filled out extensive questionnaires, which asked about their daily routines, political views and general state of mind, said a New York Times special report.

Half the users were randomly assigned to deactivate their Facebook accounts for a month, in exchange for payment – as a control group.

When the month was over, the quitters and control subjects again filled out extensive surveys that assessed changes in their state of mind, political awareness and partisan passion, as well as the ebb and flow of their daily activities, online and off, since the experiment began, said Benedict Carey, Times science reporter, who wrote about the research.

For abstainers, breaking up with Facebook freed up about an hour a day, on average, and more than twice that for the heaviest users. They also reported spending more time offline, including with friends and family, or watching TV, Carey said in his report.

He also quoted Dr. Matthew Gentzkow, a Stanford economist and one of the lead researchers as saying he “would have expected more substitution from Facebook to other digital things — Twitter, Snapchat, online browsing.”

“That didn’t happen, and for me, at least, it was a surprise,” the Stanford economist reportedly said.

Meantime, on tests of political knowledge, the abstainers scored a few points lower than they did before deactivating their accounts.

“The political-knowledge findings suggest that Facebook is an important source of news that people pay attention to,” said David Lazer, a professor of political science and computer and information science at Northeastern University. “This is not a trivial finding. It could have gone either way.”

“The most striking result from the study may be that deactivating Facebook had a positive but small effect on people’s moods and life satisfaction. The finding tempers the widely held presumption that habitual social-media use causes real psychological distress,” said Carey.

He noted that psychologists and computer scientists have made the case that social media are addictive, and that few habitual Facebook users would disagree. He said the new experiment provided plenty of supporting evidence: After it ended, the subjects who had quit for a month said they planned to use Facebook less, and they did so, reducing their previous habit — at least for a while.

About 10 percent were still abstaining a week later, compared with 3 percent of the control group, who had voluntarily deactivated; and 5 percent were abstaining two months later, compared with 1 percent in the control group.

Facebook’s monthly users is estimated to be at around 2.3 billion worldwide. The study was posted recently on the Social Science Research Network, an open access site.

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It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

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With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

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