The mad, mad world of so­cial me­dia com­ment­ing

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on pop­u­lar­ity,” Mr Dunk­ley said.

“In­sta­gram is try­ing to project its im­age as be­ing so­cially re­spon­si­ble, es­pe­cially with its sis­ter plat­form Face­book un­der scru­tiny at the mo­ment for many rea­sons.”

He said it’s great to see that In­sta­gram is tak­ing own­er­ship of the prob­lem and ac­knowl­edg­ing that they cre­ated the ‘cur­rency of pop­u­lar­ity’, and un­der­stand that it is turn­ing many users into a bunch of at­ten­tion seek­ing ‘grandiose nar­cis­sists’.

“Visu­alise a per­son who is al­ready feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble, ob­sess­ing over that like counter sec­ond-guess­ing their self-worth and con­tem­plat­ing the ways they can im­prove their like count next time,” he said.

Mr Dunk­ley said re­mov­ing likes may help re­duce be­hav­iours where the per­son is do­ing po­ten­tially harm­ful and dan­ger­ous stunts just to get so­cial me­dia likes.

“For ex­am­ple, there is a no­tice­able in­crease of deaths from peo­ple fall­ing off cliffs and at­tacked by an­i­mals just to get that per­fect selfie shot,” Mr Dunk­ley said.

“There is also an un­der­ly­ing reason that re­mov­ing likes ben­e­fits Face­book and In­sta­gram,” said, point­ing out that users have a ‘group­think be­hav­iour’ where they just like posts be­cause ev­ery­one else is lik­ing those posts – and that plays havoc with the plat­forms’ ad tar­get­ing.

Users are be­ing shown ads that they’re not in­ter­ested in be­cause they fol­lowed suit and clicked that like but­ton. For ad­ver­tis­ers it makes paid ads less ef­fec­tive, and have less reach, re­sult­ing in re­duced ad spend. “Not good for rev­enue,” he said.

He points to re­cent stud­ies from time.com and forbes.com re­veal­ing In­sta­gram is the most dam­ag­ing so­cial me­dia plat­form for men­tal health in users aged 14 to 24, where it’s com­monly as­so­ci­ated with grow­ing lev­els of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, bul­ly­ing and a fear of miss­ing out.

“Users are al­ready delet­ing their posts if they don’t get enough likes to avoid em­bar­rass­ment in front of their on­line peers,” Mr Dunk­ley said.

“But some so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers are call­ing foul as they be­lieve that show­ing the num­ber of likes helps them at­tract spon­sors.

“Maybe it’s a good idea not to en­cour­age peo­ple to blindly sell

The quick self-check for next time you are about to com­ment on­line.

z Ask your­self, is the sub­ject a rep­utable, data-sourced fact, or just an opin­ion?

z Treat post­ing as a real-life meet­ing. Ad­dress the is­sue, not the per­son.

z Be scep­ti­cal on the va­lid­ity of the in­for­ma­tion. Do your re­search.

z Ask more ques­tions.

z Dou­ble-check sources.

z Don’t take in­for­ma­tion at face value.

z If you wouldn’t ver­bally say some­thing in a face-to-face sce­nario, then think twice about it be­fore you hit the post but­ton.

z There is a real per­son on the other end of your mes­sage and they have feel­ings too. Re­mem­ber that. Stop the per­sonal at­tacks.

z You may have taken the mes­sage out of con­text. It’s so easy to do that. Ask the other per­son to ex­plain how they came to their con­clu­sion.

z Think twice be­fore writ­ing some­thing. You might just be shoot­ing off at the mouth be­fore putting the brain into gear. Come back to it later and ask your­self, is this some­thing I might re­gret say­ing later? Would I put this on a bill­board in front of my house for ev­ery­one to see? If not, don’t do it.

z Try to rise above the crowd: ver­ify claims in­de­pen­dently; give a fair hear­ing to oth­ers’ claims; and fol­low the data trail.

their souls to ad­ver­tis­ers just to sell iphone cases or foot cream – let’s be hon­est, would you really miss in­sta in­flu­encers?”

He said when it comes down to it, this change is for the good of ev­ery­one’s men­tal health and to im­prove the way we in­ter­act on­line with each other.

Face­book has fol­lowed In­sta­gram by re­mov­ing post likes from the feed in Aus­tralia, so you may have al­ready no­ticed the changes.

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