A new, very lengthy and in-depth report by The Globe and Mail claims Instagram uses some rather shady psychological tactics to get people to use the app more when they’ve been ignoring it.
In their report, which focuses on the fact that smartphones have not only changed the way we do a plethora of things, they have also changed the way we, as human beings, think and interact.
According to the research they studied, “smartphones are causing real damage to our minds and relationships, measurable in seconds shaved off the average attention span, reduced brain power, declines in work-life balance and hours less of family time.”
“They have impaired our ability to remember. They make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively. They make us more vulnerable to anxiety. They make parents ignore their children. And they are addictive, if not in the contested clinical sense then for all intents and purposes.”
Do you disagree with any of that?
As we reported earlier this month, a study of addiction to sites like Facebook stated that it creates feelings similar to that of having sex or doing cocaine.
Some of those executives that were involved in creating this new culture actually even feel bad about it.
“I feel tremendous guilt,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth at Facebook, in a public talk in November. “I think we all knew in the back of our minds… something bad could happen.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he went on gravely, before a hushed audience at Stanford business school. “It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave.”
Ever wonder why social media apps are constantly bugging you to turn your notifications on?
They know that once the icons start flashing onto your lock screen, you won’t be able to ignore them. It’s also why Facebook switched the colour of its notifications from a mild blue to attention-grabbing red.
Stanford psychologist B.J. Fogg predicted computers could and would take massive advantage of our susceptibility to the nagging. “People get tired of saying no; everyone has a moment of weakness when it’s easier to comply than to resist,” he wrote in his book Persuasive Technology… IN 2002!
Now here comes the shady, somewhat insidious part…
The makers of smartphone apps rightly believe that part of the reason we’re so curious about those notifications is that people are desperately insecure and crave positive feedback with a kneejerk desperation. Matt Mayberry, who works at a California startup called Dopamine Labs, says it’s common knowledge in the industry that Instagram exploits this craving by strategically withholding “likes” from certain users. If the photo-sharing app decides you need to use the service more often, it’ll show only a fraction of the likes you’ve received on a given post at first, hoping you’ll be disappointed with your haul and check back again in a minute or two. “They’re tying in to your greatest insecurities,” Mr. Mayberry said.
Instagram’s CTO Mike Krieger strongly denied that they use this tactic in a Twitter conversation with Andrea Coravos, the CEO of Elektra Labs.
Krieger stopped responding at this point.
Dopamine Labs, the company quoted in the report, also weighed in on the conversation.
The use of smartphones and social media apps are causing real issues such as an increase in attention-deficit disorder, the lowering of the average human attention span, mothers and fathers paying less attention to their kids, and even the lowering of people’s IQ scores.
John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an expert on attention-deficit disorder, stated the symptoms of people with ADD and people with smartphones are “absolutely the same.”
Do yourself a favor and read the entire report by The Globe and Mail here.