Here we go again: another Facebook controversy, yet again violating our sense of privacy by letting others harvest our personal information.
This flareup is a big one to be sure, leading some people to consider leaving Facebook altogether, but the company and most of its over 2 billion users will reconcile. The vast majority will return to Facebook, just like they did the last time and the many times before that.
As in all abusive relationships, users have a psychological dependence that keeps them hooked despite knowing that, at some level, it’s not good for them.
Decades of research has shown that our relationship with all media, whether movies, television or radio, is symbiotic: People like them because of the gratifications they get from consuming them – benefits like escapism, relaxation and companionship. The more people use them, the more gratifications they seek and obtain.
With online media, however, a consumer’s use provides data to media companies so they can serve up exactly what would gratify her most, as they mine her behavior patterns to tailor her online experiences and appeal to her individual psychological needs.
Aside from providing content for our consumption, Facebook, Twitter, Google – indeed all interactive media – provide us with new possibilities for interaction on the platform that can satisfy some of our innate human cravings.
Interactive tools in Facebook provide simplified ways to engage your curiosity, broadcast your thoughts, promote your image, maintain relationships and fulfill the yearning for external validation. Social media take advantage of common psychological traits and tendencies to keep you clicking – and revealing more of yourself. Here’s why it’s so hard, as a social network user, to pull the plug once and for all.
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