We already knew it. We had known it for a long time, but we did not want to see it. For a BBC documentary, however, was investigated how tech giants like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter keep their users tethered to their devices. In addition, the BBC spoke with various insiders from Silicon Valley and from that came the inevitable answer: social media companies know very well that their apps are addictive and even do everything to strengthen that effect.
According to the ex-Jawbone and Mozilla executive, tech companies have been testing people for a long time to reach the optimal addiction index. This can sometimes be in detail, such as the shape and color of the ‘like’ button on Facebook, but it also involves third parties who try to see which behavior easily develops into a habit and then ensure that this behavior become part of your social media experience.
Refine the exploitation
In the case of Facebook, this kind of research is commonplace, according to interviews with former employees. Mark Zuckerberg and other founders of social media channels soon realized that they were exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology, but that did not stop them for a second to refine the exploitation. That was not possible either, because the whole business model of all these parties is based on exactly the unwillingness of us to stop using it.
As long as we keep looking, clicking and liking, ads can be sold and the more an app that can fuel, the more can be earned. That people are being fired with the thought processes, no one asks. A number of former high ranking people now regret their ‘inventions’ after they themselves have experienced the consequences. The inventor of the ‘like’ button Leah Pearlman herself is also addicted to Facebook. “If I want to feel good I go to Facebook” she says. It was not the intention to make that damn button so addictive, but by the time it turned out it was already too late.