How can we build less toxic social network?



Aug 22, 2022

How can we build less toxic social network?

How can we build less toxic social network?

Social network and toxicity

What is toxicity in social network?

What is toxicity in social network? Toxicity means generally its ability to cause harmful effects, mostly about a chemical substance or a particular mixture of substances can damage an organism.

In terms of social network, it refers to harmful effects to your brain or mental health by getting exposed to social network.

Toxicity in Social Network

Instagram Envy

New York Times published an article about Instagram Envy.

According to this article, viewers on instagram are expected to let the sumptuous photos wash over them and chip in with comments (“Gorgeous sunset!”) and “likes,” which function as a form of social currency, reinforcing the idea that every shot is a performance worthy of applause. The result is an online culture where the ethic is to impress, rather than confess.

So instead of sharing your ordinary day, people try to impress others.

What we see through these posts is just a tiny part of someone’s day, yet the way it gets presented makes it seem like our peers has a way different life than themselves.

Psychologists call that phenomenon ‘Instagram envy’.

People are looking at filtered and edited bodies of people, selling magical leggings, detox diet, weight-loss tea or any other such product to impress others.

The same people get forced to buy with the hopes of getting similar results. Unknown to the unrealistic standard that they have internalized. It creates a very harmful and toxic body image which poses numerous health threats.

SnapChat Streak

Created photos and filtered content on snapchat has the same phenomenon, and that make teens feel that their real appearance isn't good enough that will lower their self-confidence.

But the real problem is in Snap Streak. Snapchat creates a game to see what users can keep up a "Streak" by using the app a lot, and that makes hierarchy of their friendship by showing number indicating how many days you have messaged with your friends.

Teens tend to compare their friendship by this number.

Social network and mental health

Depression, FOMO, and anxiety related to social network

There are many studies on correlation between social network and mental health.

One interesting research conducted an experiment by comparing a group of people who can use social media without restrictions with a group of people who get limitation to use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat use 10 minutes per day for three weeks at the University of Pennsylvania for 143 students.

"The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring."

Minorities are marginalized

According to researchers at Columbia University, sexual minorities tend to get isolated, less connected and have lower social status among friends.

"Using social network data, we examined three characteristics of adolescents' social relationships: (1) social isolation; (2) degree of connectedness; and (3) social status. Sexual minority youths, particularly females, were more isolated, less connected, and had lower social status in peer networks than opposite-sex attracted youths. Among sexual minority male (but not female) youths, greater isolation as well as lower connectedness and status within a network were associated with greater depressive symptoms. "

For Black teens, mental health has been particularly impacted by widespread access to viral videos of police shootings.

Research done by USC revealed that African American and Latinx adolescents viewed traumatic events online, they had higher rates of depressive and post-traumatic stress symptoms, including re-experiencing, avoidance, numbing, and hyperarousal.

Each incident might serve as a reminder to Black youth that, in this country, their lives have been devalued. In light of data showing that social media causes the most harm for teenage girls, Black teen girls are even more at risk by virtue of their intersectional identities.

Social network and inclusion

Current social network is not inclusive

Social network is not inclusive enough because of nature of current social network, where people seek similar content instead of exploring something new.

Algorithm on Tiktok

Most of people on Tiktok watch videos through "For you" on the top of the app, where Tiktok recommends video based on your preference using machine learning from the result after 36 min use of you watching activity on Tiktok.

That means, the more you use Tiktok, the less diverse content you will get exposed to, likewise on YouTube.

Danger in seeing the similarity

Sociologists have found that almost all decisions affecting the entire population are made in social situations.

So decisions can be made based on the "wisdom of the crowd" rather than on individual judgments.

When engagement is high and intense in a group, the same ideas may come around again and again. However, because ideas change subtly from person to person, they may not be recognized as mere repetition of ideas. As a result, they assume that "everyone is following the same" and become more convinced that they should too.

This is called echo chamber.

Echo Chamber Problem on Facebook and Twitter

Researchers in Italy done Echo Camber Effect among social networks; Gab, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

" We perform a comparative analysis of more than 100 million pieces of content concerning several controversial topics (e.g., gun control, vaccination, abortion) from Gab, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. We quantify echo chambers over social media by two main ingredients: 1) homophily in the interaction networks and 2) bias in the information diffusion toward like-minded peers. Our results show that the aggregation of users in homophilic clusters dominate online interactions on Facebook and Twitter. We conclude the paper by directly comparing news consumption on Facebook and Reddit, finding higher segregation on Facebook."

So not all social media cause the echo chamber but the social network which have controlled algorithm such as Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, SnapChat and Twitter might have more chances to have echo chamber effect.

Build less toxic social network

weBelong app is trying to make less toxic social network to celebrate differences. But how?

Taking the toxicity out of social network

Less numbers

One of the way to make social network less toxic is not showing numbers such as likes, followers, friends and so on.

Instagram is about number of followers that form hierarchy of popularity. Instagram envy won't stop without stopping to show number of followers others have and number of likes others have (But that ruins Instagram business model that it will not happen even if they know it is harmful).

More text

Most of social network nowadays tend to be based on image. Tiktok SnapChat and Instagram cause eating disorder, lower self-esteem because of this image based product with filter.

weBelong is more likely to text and interaction, not much image.

Try to make the space safer

Banning Predators

Predators are everywhere, but less on weBelong since we are banning predators and never allows them to re-join the app.

Action toward discrimination

Same as discrimination or sexual harrassment. We have strict actions toward discrimination, harrassment, or something that violates our community guideline.

Therefore, if a user violates the community guideline, their account will be permanently suspended.

Making social network inclusive

Users own the control to see content

weBelong is based on community so that you can control your timeline by yourself.

weBelong doesn't have algorithm to make users toxic, doesn't personalize your timeline to make money. You have your own control on what kind of content you would like to see by befriending and joining communities.

Help users connected

Furthermore, we help users encounter new friends who have different background as well. You will see diverse people on weBelong and they share their own real life instead of faking their life, that makes the weBelong community diverse.

Facilitating meaningful interactions

Giving matters

Giving is important on weBelong. weBelong tries to facilitate meaningful interactions among friends instead of pursuing meaningless likes or followers.

One of the function is giving personality traits. You can give upvotes for your friends such as "Good friends" "Good listener" and so on (This is visible only for users who get so that comparison problem will not happen on weBelong).

By helping others, people endorse your personality.

Being yourself

weBelong is about being yourself. Since you don't have to fake yourself to impress others, all you need is to share your life, troubles or something describing yourself.

It could be about your problems, could be your hobbies, could be anything about your life.

If you are still not comfortable with showing your true-self, you can lock your screen that you can be yourself on weBelong because there is no fear that your true face won't be accessible for both friends or family.

To make the world less toxic

weBelong is taking the toxicity out of social networks by swapping “likes”, “followers” and “reactions” for features that facilitate and support meaningful interactions.

weBelong has been designed to help teenagers and adolescents who feel like “misfits” to connect with other like-minded people – representing a healthier and more genuine alternative to the likes of Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

We will aim to build less toxic social network and create a social system where differences can thrive.