There’s now scientific proof of what we already knew: Quitting Facebook is beneficial for your health.
A new report titled “The Economic Effects of Facebook” was published this week online in the journal Experimental Economics. The study looked at two groups of Texas A&M student participants in 2017: Those who went off Facebook for a week and those who remained on the social media platform during that period. The findings, discussed in Nieman Lab, were that the students who were off of Facebook consumed less news and also reported greater overall well-being.
“Overall, the effects our study finds on news awareness, news consumption, feelings of depression, and daily activities show that Facebook has significant effects on important aspects of life not directly related to building and supporting social networks,” the study found.
The people who were off of Facebook for a week ate out less, made fewer impulse purchases, were more productive, and consumed less news. The reduced news consumption among those who avoided Facebook was itself a notable finding.
“On average, participants in the Facebook restriction group significantly decrease their consumption of news by 0.64 standard deviations with respect to the baseline (p value < 0.05), and this effect is consistent across all news types,” the study concluded.
This could suggest that when people get off Facebook, they don’t seek further outlets to get their news, which could be troubling given Facebook’s history of perpetuating fake news across its platform.
Facebook has tried to combat this issue with the introduction of a News Tab curated by seasoned journalists. The social media giant said in August that it plans to hire a team of journalists that will curate a dedicated news section within the mobile app. The News Tab will exist outside of Facebook’s news feed and will contain the most recent and relevant news stories. The feature will reportedly be ready by the end of the year.
Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news have a focus on limiting the ability of fake news stories (or clickbait) to go viral and providing easy ways for users to fact-check stories. Facebook has also partnered with fact-checking organizations such as Snopes and PolitiFact.
Digital Trends reached out to Facebook to comment on the study, and we’ll update this story once we hear back.
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